Selection of North American bid could bring tournament to Edmonton

Russia's national football team

A successful joint North America bid will see the global sports event return to the US for the first time since 1994.

The FIFA congress announced Wednesday it had selected Canada, the United States and Mexico to host the tournament.

Edmonton's hopes of becoming a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup rest on a final vote Wednesday morning in Moscow.

There is now a professional league that includes impressive infrastructure such as stadiums and training grounds, European games are omnipresent on television, top players now come from across the country, and the World Cup is big business.

Of the 11 host cities at the World Cup this summer, Moscow can be considered the central hub of the tournament with its two state-of-the-art stadiums set to host some of the competition's defining games. Federation Internationale de Football Association will meet with the bid committee over the next two years to determine, by mid or late 2020, the North American cities that will stage the tournament's 80 matches. Though some high-profile countries went for Morocco, 41 of 55 UEFA members ended up voting for the United Bid.

"The more Toronto gets put on the map, the more people who are looking for a place to invest in North America pick Toronto because they think about Toronto", he said.

Nashville in the running to host 2026 FIFA World Cup games
Most national teams prefer to establish their pre-World Cup training compounds away from their first-round group-game cities. Canada will host men's World Cup matches for the first time, while Mexico gets its first taste of the event since 1986.

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Hosting World Cups and Olympic Games is openly a politicians' prestige-burnishing project now, not only for Russia's president Vladimir Putin or Qatar's Emir, seeking soft power from hosting in 2022. "Our cities are ready to host today", said John Kristick, executive director of the United Bid Committee. The lovely game transcends borders and cultures.

CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, has seven slots in the World Cup.

Forty-eight teams will compete in 80 games - 60 of them will be played in 10 USA cities, while Canada and Mexico will each host 10.

"And in that spirit we wish all Russian hosts and all the teams competing here the very best of luck".

Anxious that rivals might try to turn the vote into a referendum on Trump, who is deeply unpopular in many parts of the world, organizers of the North American bid took pains to dissociate their efforts from politics.

"We believe strongly that this decision will be made on its merits", Cordeiro, the bid leader, told reporters. Teams are expected to arrive at least five days before their first World Cup game and would remain at least throughout the group stage, except for the dates immediately before and after match days.

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