Although its men’s national team failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup, the United States still has something to celebrate — that is, a successful bid to host the international soccer tournament come 2026.
The U.S., Canada and Mexico joined forces to earn the hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup, beating Morocco by a margin of 69 votes, according to FIFA, the sport’s global governing body. It marks the first time the event will be hosted in a North American country since coming to the U.S. in 1994 as well as the first time it is hosted by three countries.
“Thank you for the incredible privilege,” U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro told FIFA members in a speech. “Football today is the only victor.”
The final vote of 134-65 was made Wednesday morning in Moscow. Known as United 2026, the trio bid will see the majority of matches — 60, to be exact — held in the U.S., with Canada and Mexico getting 10 each. The championship game will be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
It is expected that the event will bring in record-high revenues, with the North American countries pledging $11 billion in profit. (Morocco, on the other hand, promised less than half in its rival bid.) The 2026 World Cup will also be the first with 48 teams instead of the current 32, requiring a bigger stage than ever before.
While FIFA itself will see a surge in revenues, the United States’ role in hosting the World Cup doesn’t necessarily translate to growth in the country’s sales — particularly when it comes to the footwear industry. According to Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for sports at The NPD Group Inc., it’s the market for jerseys and other team merchandise that will be positively impacted.
“Just to be clear, World Cup means nothing to sales in the world’s largest sneaker market,” Powell wrote in a tweet. “WC is virtually meaningless to footwear sales anywhere. WC is all about jersey sales. Wholesale sales largely come BEFORE any games begin.”
The 2018 World Cup kicks off at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium tomorrow.
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