By Roger Gonzalez
(CBS SPORTS) – For the first time since 1994, the World Cup is coming back to North America. On Wednesday in Moscow, the trio bid of the United States, Mexico and Canada beat Morocco in a vote to earn the hosting rights to the 2026 World Cup. The final vote ended with 134 to the United States and 65 for Morocco.
Denver is among the cities included in the U.S. bid, but there’s no word yet on which cities will hold the matches.
With just two bids, the trio bid (known as United 2026) was far and away the favorite. FIFA’s bid evaluation report scored it significantly higher than the Morocco bid, with United 2026 earning a score of 4.0 out of five, while Morocco scored 2.7, and the voters responded. In addition, the United bid projected to bring in $14 billion, double that of Morocco.
It’s massive news for the sport in North America, where it continues to grow, especially in the United States. In eight year’s time, many of the young rising stars of the United States men’s national team should be in their prime as it is expected to be the first World Cup with 48 teams. FIFA is scheduled to hold a vote to see if it will allow 48 teams to play in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Since the U.S. first hosted the World Cup in 1994 (Denver wasn’t one of the host cities), it has been in France, South Korea and Japan (joint-bid), Germany, South Africa and Brazil, with the Russia World Cup beginning on Thursday. The U.S. will join France, Germany, Brazil, and Italy as nations to host the cup twice, while this will be a record third time for Mexico. The country hosted in 1970, but it also hosted in 1986 after it was originally awarded to Colombia, who couldn’t host for economic reasons.
Because they are all hosting, the Canada, U.S. and Mexico teams will all automatically qualify for the tournament.