© Mladen ANTONOV / AFP
The United States, Mexico and Canada won the right to host the 2026 World Cup, beating Morocco in a vote by FIFA member nations on Wednesday.
The North American bid received 134 of the 203 votes, while Morocco polled 65 in the ballot at a FIFA Congress held in Moscow on the eve of the 2018 World Cup.
First time since 1994
Football's showpiece event will return to the North American continent for the first time since 1994 when the United States hosted the tournament.
Delegates had been faced with a clear choice -- the joint North American bid boasts modern, established stadiums and well-developed transport links underpinned by Mexican football fervour.
Morocco emphasised proximity
Morocco, on the other hand, promised a "European" World Cup in Africa, playing on the north African nation's proximity to Europe.
But compared to North America, Morocco's bid existed largely on paper -- many stadiums and roads would have had to have been built and critics questioned how it would have coped with the 2026 tournament, which will be expanded to 48 teams.
FIFA saw high risk
FIFA inspectors classified the north African nation's stadiums, accommodation and transport as "high risk", awarding it just 2.7 out of five in an evaluation report, with concerns raised over several critical aspects.
They warned "the amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become reality cannot be overstated".
The report made the US-Canada-Mexico bid the clear favourite after rating it four out of five, and Morocco was not able to bridge the gap.
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