The North American bid collected 134 votes to the 65 for Morocco. One congress member voted for “neither bid.”
The 2026 event will be the first expanded tournament featuring 48 teams, up from the current 32-team tournament, which begins in Russia on Thursday.
Both bids were given the last chance to make their case with 15-minute presentations in front of Congress, at the Moscow Expocentre. The North Americans pledged their tournament would generate an $11 billion profit, while Morocco, which has now failed in five bids to host a World Cup, said theirs would make five billion.
Although it will be the first tournament to be hosted by three nations, the vast majority of games will be held in the United States.
Of the 80 games, 10 matches will be held in Canada, 10 in Mexico and 60 in the US with the final played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home to the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets.
“Thank you for entrusting us with the privilege of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2026,” Carlos Cordiero, president of the US Soccer Federation told Congress.
“Football today is the only winner.”
The US hosted the World Cup previously in 1994 while Mexico hosted it in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never hosted a men’s World Cup but held the women’s tournament in 2015.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is believed to strongly support the North American bid because the three countries involved backed him for the presidency in 2016 when he took over after the reign of Blatter.
Critics of the Morocco bid also point to the fact that the 2026 World Cup will be the first to be expanded to 48 teams, posing a severe test for the hosts.
Bid leader Hicham El Amrani argues its 12 host cities are “very close to each other, with for example Casablanca a maximum 500 kilometers from another venue” compared to the vast distances involved in North America.
France, in particular, has lobbied behind the scenes for French-speaking Morocco and the bid has the support of most of Africa in line with a call from the head of the Confederation of African Football, Ahmad Ahmad.
It will likely need heavy support from European nations to pull off a shock win — and its proximity to Europe is a plus for many supporters.
Aleksander Ceferin, the president of Europe’s governing body UEFA, says he has not directed his members which way to vote.
“UEFA delegates are smart enough to choose what is best for football,” he told the BBC.
Morocco has tried, and failed, four times before, in votes for 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 tournaments — it lost out in the latter to South Africa, the only African nation ever to have hosted football’s global showpiece.
North American bid leaders countered by promising to deliver a record $11 billion profit.
A FIFA taskforce warned last month “the amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become reality cannot be overstated”