(WFI) United States Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro said the United 2026 bid focused its efforts on shoring up votes from North and South America, before targeting Asian football federations.
The United States, Mexico, and Canada secured hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup in a landslide vote over Morocco at the 2018 FIFA Congress in Moscow. In what was expected to be a close race became a rout as the voting was revealed. United 2026 received 134 votes to Morocco’s 65. Three countries abstained from voting, and one voted for the “neither bid” option.
For the first time, FIFA published the list of how each country voted in an effort to increase transparency. It also had the effect of showing which regions supported which bid, and added some geopolitical intrigue to the vote.
Following the United 2026 win, Cordeiro acknowledged the strategy to secure votes during a conference call to media not in Russia.
“We always had a clear pathway to victory. We had that for some time,” Cordeiro said. “That strategy which led us to ask ‘how do we get there?’ [First] was to consolidate our support at home. We started there and were successful in anchoring our support. Then we had a very clear strategy in Asia.
“We don’t normally interact with Asia except our senior women’s now and again playing them, so the Asian strategy was very successful. Then we finished the exercise in Europe and we were very surprised in the support we got there.”
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The United bid had near unanimous support in the North and South American and Caribbean regions. Only Cuba abstained from voting, in the North American and Caribbean confederation (CONCACAF). In South America only Brazil broke ranks and voted against the United bid.
According to Brazilian media in Moscow, officials at the Brazilian Football Confederation would not answer for the decision. That left media to speculate that authorities voted for Morocco in response to U.S. indictments against Brazilian football officials.
The Americas gave United 49 votes in its favor, which is close to the size of the 54 members of Confederation of African Federations, which had backed Morocco. Surprisingly, 11 African nations split and supported the United bid. Frayed diplomatic relations between Southern African countries and Morocco largely accounted for this disparity.
In Asia the United bid secured 33 votes to Morocco’s 11. Iran was the only country to vote for the “neither bid option,” which was unsurprising given its lack of diplomatic ties to the United States and Morocco.
Of Europe’s 55 football associations, 41 voted for the United bid with only 12 voting for Morocco. Spain and Slovenia abstained. All 11 of Oceania’s voting associations voted for the United bid.
“To say we knew it would be a landside was unfair for us,” Cordeiro said. “We were delighted it was quite the result it was.”
Trump Effect Not Stated
Cordeiro did not explicitly mention United States President Donald Trump in the victory press conference, though his presence loomed large over the entire vote.
Trump’s often hostile rhetoric was seen as a disadvantage for the United bid as it tried to convince voters. But he largely stayed out of the World Cup race, save for a few statements which caused controversy.
In one tweet about the bid Trump said “it would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid,” prompting FIFA to say it was investigating if any bid rules were broken.
Eventually, Trump wrote three letters to FIFA assuaging concerns about visa-free travel during the three-country World Cup, according to the New York Times. Those letters reportedly had an effect on voters during the final push before the FIFA Congress.
Cordeiro said organizers was “very grateful” for all the support given by the three national governments involved in the bid when asked about Trump. While national governments traditionally give assurances for mega-event bids, the act of wrangling multiple guarantees from multiple governments was a challenge for United 2026.
“If you stop and appreciate for a second the vast number of assurances and guarantees that we got from all three governments working together that’s a massive undertaking,” Cordeiro said. “FIFA would never have awarded this mandate today, were it not for the fact that we got what we needed from all our governments.”
By INSIDER Aaron Bauer
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