Rick Zamperin: ‘United 2026’ should host World Cup, but FIFA has surprised before

Time-lapse video shows multitude of fans touring sites in Moscow ahead of World Cup
ABOVE: Time-lapse video shows multitude of fans touring sites in Moscow ahead of World Cup.

You can’t blame soccer fans in Canada if they seem a little nervous.

As we approach the eve of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Canada is on the cusp of grabbing a slice of soccer’s biggest stage.

207 member countries of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body, will cast their vote Wednesday in Moscow to select the host of the 2026 World Cup.

READ MORE: Canadian soccer stalwarts say co-hosting 2026 World Cup could transform the sport in Canada

There are two bids and the winner needs 104 votes.

There is the joint North American bid involving Canada, the United States and Mexico β€” known as “United 2026” β€” and a bid from Morocco.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the vote.

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On one hand, FIFA members will look at the power of the North American bid β€” home to world-class stadiums, hotels, entertainment and transportation facilities.

On the other, holding the World Cup in Morocco would continue to help grow the game in Africa and keep the tournament in the same time zones as soccer-mad Europe.

READ MORE: North America and Morocco finalists for hosting 2026 World Cup

However, it seems United 2026 has the edge going into Wednesday’s vote after a recent evaluation report from FIFA inspectors scored the North American bid a 4.0 out of 5 with no high risks, and gave Morocco a 2.7 with multiple high risks.

But we’ve seen the writing on the wall before, and an ensuing about-face from FIFA members.

All we can do now is hope the merits of ‘United 2026’ are good enough to get the world’s eyes on us.