Ahead of tomorrow’s first match in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia – between the host country and Saudi Arabia at 1am Friday Au time – the FIFA Congress have voted on the bids to host the 2026 championship. The so-called United Bid – USA, Canada and Mexico – beat out Morocco, 134-65.
Commentators reckon a massive factor was the state of the venues presented – all the stadiums in the North American bid are ready to go tomorrow, while the Moroccans would have needed to build or renovate 14 stadiums. Plus, the United Bid forecast they could make about $14.2 billion in profit, while their rivals only projected $7.8 billion.
Their joint bid is the first time three countries have shared the event, and obvs it remains to be seen just how that goes down. The last – and only – time two countries shared the World Cup host spot was back in 2002 when South Korea and Japan coordinated their efforts. The 2022 World Cup will also be the first where 48 teams compete in the championship, up from 32.
It’ll be the third time Mexico’s hosted the event, after the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, and the second time for the US, who first beat Morocco (and Brazil) to the hosting rights in 1994, setting attendance records with the highest average of attendance per match (68,991), and the highest attendance for the tournament overall (3.57 mill). The record for highest attendance at a World Cup Final was set in Mexico City, when Argentina defeated West Germany (114,600) in 1986.
Still, despite those frankly impressive previous efforts, the successful bid remains a massive deal for the new host nations, particularly for the USA, who lost out on a bid for the 2022 World Cup to Qatar back in 2010.
Yes, remember, way back in 2010, Russia was selected to host this year’s event, and Qatar the 2022 World Cup – beating out Australia, Japan, South Korea and the USA. That time around we got a whole ONE (!) vote for the low, low price of $46 million in federal government moolah, and not without first seriously irking the NRL and AFL, who feared that they would lose their venues mid-season. Oh and there was this scandal.
Sports, y’know? We love ’em.