MOSCOW -- The United States might not be participating in the World Cup, but it pulled off a historic victory in Russia all the same: The globe's biggest sporting event is returning to the U.S.
In a long-anticipated vote on Wednesday, the joint bid of the U.S., Mexico and Canada defeated Morocco, its only challenger, as more than 200 national soccer federations cast their ballots to cap FIFA's annual Congress.
The three-nation bid captured 134 votes with Morocco earning 65.
"This is an incredible, and incredibly important, moment for soccer in North America and beyond," said Carlos Cordeiro, the president of U.S. Soccer.
The 2026 tournament will feature an expanded field of 48 teams -- as opposed to recent editions having 32 -- and will mark the first time in FIFA's history that a three-nation bid has been awarded the showpiece event.
The joint bid's plans call for 60 of the 80 games to be played in the United States -- including all matches from the quarterfinals onward -- while Canada and Mexico host 10 apiece. The final is expected to be played at MetLife Stadium, just outside New York.
The tournament will be the first World Cup in the United States since 1994, and bid organizers frequently highlighted the importance of hosting a World Cup as a way to mark and push on the ever-growing rise of the sport in the U.S.
Winning the bid was a development long in the making, too: The United States -- and many others in the football world -- thought the 2022 tournament would be in the U.S., but the U.S. was beaten for those rights by Qatar in a vote eight years ago that was subsequently shown to be riddled with bribery.
That vote took place under the old system, where only a few dozen FIFA executives decided which countries would receive hosting rights in a process that was the epitome of backroom dealing. After a slew of high-profile arrests in 2015, however, as well as the still-ongoing investigations into football-related corruption by the U.S. Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies around the world, the World Cup bidding process was overhauled, and now features each of FIFA's eligible member nations casting a public vote.
To account for the new voting system, the so-called United Bid spent the past several months with its leaders -- Cordeiro, Canada's federation president Steve Reed and Mexico's federation president Decio de Maria -- on the road, crisscrossing the globe to meet with as many federation leaders as possible.