The soccer news starts with a few firsts from FIFA. Early Wednesday morning in North America, FIFA selected the joint North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup. It was the first vote that included the entire FIFA Congress and the first time three countries will jointly host a World Cup. The North American bid beat Morocco and the option to vote to reopen the bid. Depending on how negotiations to expand the 2022 tournament go, the 2026 World Cup may also be the first 48-team tournament.
"Hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup is a rare and important moment to demonstrate that we are all truly united through sport," US Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro said. "We are humbled by the trust our colleagues in the FIFA family have put in our bid' strengthened by the unity between our three countries and the CONCACAF region, and excited by the opportunity we have to put football on a new and sustainable path for generations to come."
Needing a simple majority, the United bid picked up 67% of the vote, 134 of the 200 votes cast. Morocco got 65 votes. Votes for reopening the bid fueled several theories leading up to the FIFA Congress, but only one association voted to reopen.
Concacaf also released a statement praising the bid. "We are very excited and humbled that the FIFA Member Associations have entrusted the Concacaf region with the honor of hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup in its new extended format. This is a monumental victory for the Concacaf family, as the United Bid exemplified the strong collaboration, beyond politics and business, that currently exists in our region. We would like to thank all the member associations who supported the United Bid, which can now test the effectiveness of a multi-nation hosting model for fulfilling the requirements of an expanded FIFA World Cup format, opening the doors for other nations in the future to come together to bid for this honor."
ESPN's Ed Dove looks at the history of Morocco's World Cup bids. Inside World Football's Andrew Warshaw sees FIFA's finances as the base for president Gianni Infantino's reelection campaign. The NY Times' Tariq Panja puts a number for revenue from the 2018 World Cup at an estimated $6.1b.
Also in the soccer news, drama from the Spain camp with the Royal Spanish Football Federation firing coach Julen Lopetegui two days before they open group play against Portugal. Lopetegui took the Real Madrid job vacated by Zinedine Zidane, expecting to make that move following the World Cup.
Instead, Spain's Federation decided to make a coaching change. They named their director of football Fernando Hierro as Spain coach for the World Cup. According to multiple sources, at issue for the Spanish Federation was Lopetegui not informing them that he was in negotiations to take the Real Madrid job. Spain found out along with everyone else when Real Madrid released a statement. The Guardian's Sid Lowe has the details and the timeline for Spain's decision.
American Soccer Now's Brian Sciaretta talks to USMNT player Jonathan Bornstein about moving from Liga MX to the Israeli league.
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Graphic courtesy of US Soccer communications