NEW YORK (CBSMiami/CNN) – A joint North American bid has been chosen as hosts of the 2026 World Cup, following a FIFA association member vote in Moscow Wednesday.
The last time the US hosted a World Cup was in 1994, and Mexico in 1986. Canada has never previously hosted World Cup matches.
The vote, in which all FIFA associations were, for the first time, eligible to vote for the host, was cast at the 68th FIFA Congress on the eve of the 2018 edition of the tournament, which begins Thursday with the official opening ceremony.
The first match of the 2018 tournament, between hosts Russia and Group A rivals Saudi Arabia, kicks off at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday.
In eight years, the US, Mexico, and Canada will play host to the largest edition of the tournament to date — 48 teams playing 80 matches across 34 days.
Under the North America proposal, 60 of the tournament’s matches will be held in the US, including everything from the quarterfinals onwards, while Mexico and Canada will host 10 games each. Miami is on the list of potential sites.
The news was big for Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez and county tourism chief Bill Talbert.
“The total impact in the U.S. is estimated to be $4.2 billion dollars,” Gimenez said.
South Florida got a taste of that kind of impact last summer when Miami hosted the “El Classico” between Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona at Hard Rock Stadium.
“It was the most successful in U.S. history, in the U.S.,” Talbert said of the 2017 friendly match.
The game brought huge dollars into South Florida in the middle of the slow summer season.
As for the potential economic impact of multiple matches during the World Cup…
“It is a Super Bowl on setroids,” Gimenez said.
BeIN Sports’ Ray Hudson talks about World Cup 2026 coming to North America and possibly South Florida
The World Cup final will probably not be in Miami, but hopes are that eight games will be. That will need to be approved by the U.S. Host Committee.
“I feel pretty confident that Miami will be one of the cities,” Gimenez said.
If so, it will be the ultimate reward for renovating Hard Rock Stadium.
“Steve Ross put a lot of dollars in the stadium,” said Tom Garfinkle, president and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium. “We designed it to be a global entertainment destination. It’s among the best places for soccer in the world now.”
After the controversial award of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar, respectively, FIFA promised a “more open and transparent” vote this time.
Previous hosts had been decided by the FIFA Executive committee, now known as the FIFA Council.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report)