FIFA will hold a vote on Wednesday in Moscow to pick the host for the 2026 World Cup. It is the first such decision in eight years, and world soccer’s governing body surely hopes it goes better than the last one. That vote, in 2010, sent this year’s tournament to Russia and the 2022 event to Qatar, but also produced widespread accusations of bribery and vote trading and, eventually, a sprawling criminal investigation.
This year’s vote has only two candidates*: a joint entry from the United States, Mexico and Canada (called the United Bid); and Morocco. The North Americans have been strong favorites since the start, and FIFA’s technical evaluations recently confirmed their front-runner status: The United Bid was rated higher than Morocco in every category but one in a report that noted, “The amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become reality cannot be overstated.” Still, the democratic (and fickle) nature of a FIFA election — the vote of each of FIFA’s 211 member associations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, carries the same weight — has led to a worldwide scramble to whip up votes.
Most countries’ soccer federations are still silent on their plans. A few dozen have gone public with their soccer federation’s intentions, but there has also been a bit of announced “support” that amounts to nonbinding statements from officials who won’t actually cast a vote. (The four bidding nations cannot vote.)
New York Times