Less than a minute. That's all it took.
15 seconds, the length of time allowed to record votes, plus another half-minute or so to get everything tabulated, set in motion the next eight years of planning -- and to set aside the last eight years of frustration, angst, and resentment, all in one fell swoop.
Eight years after a failed bid to host the 2022 edition came under a firestorm and led to accusations of bribery as well as the ousting of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the North American United bid won the rights to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup early Wednesday morning.
Just before 7 a.m. and some 20 minutes into the fifth hour of the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow, FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samoura announced the final result: a landslide 134-65 tally in favor of United '26, with one national football association -- Iran -- not pledging their vote to either party.
The result means that the World Cup is coming back to the CONCACAF region for the first time in 32 years, and that the United States, Mexico, and Canada’s soccer governing bodies — the US Soccer Federation, Mexican Football Federation, and Canadian Soccer Association, respectively — will now organize the first 48-team World Cup after defeating a weaker bid from Morocco, which has now failed to win its fifth bid to host FIFA’s quadrennial celebration of the Beautiful Game.
The next FIFA Congress -- slated for June 5, '19 in Paris, ahead of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup -- will decide if all three nations receive automatic bids to the expanded tournament. Normally a three-place confederation in the 32-team World Cup, CONCACAF will have three additional spots, up to six, in the World Cup that year.
With Revolution investor/operator and Patriots owner Robert Kraft serving as Honorary Chairman of the Board for United '26, Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium is expected to hold several matches during the month-long tournament -- but there is no guarantee of that. All told, United '26 had placed 23 stadiums in its bid book, and FIFA will pare the list down to 16 in the years leading up to the event.
Should Gillette be used, a grass pitch will be installed in place of the FieldTurf both football clubs utilize, per the United '26 bid book.