The Football Association is on the brink of voting for the United States, Canada and Mexico to host the 2026 World Cup. The so-called ‘United’ bid is also expecting the rest of the home nations to follow suit in Wednesday’s ballot to decide where the expanded tournament would be staged.
The FA has not made a final decision over whether to cast its vote for the US-led bid or that of Morocco ahead of a presentation by both bid teams at a meeting of Uefa members on Tuesday morning.
But the Daily Telegraph has learnt that, barring a dramatic development, English football’s governing body is all but certain to support the United bid at Fifa’s annual congress in Moscow.
That follows the publication this month of the evaluation report of each bid in which inspectors awarded the North American bid a significantly higher score than that of Morocco, which narrowly avoided elimination on technical grounds.
Wednesday’s vote is the first for a World Cup host since England were humiliated in the race for this summer’s tournament despite boasting the strongest technical bid.
Having condemned the allegedly-corrupt process that led to Russia being chosen as hosts, the FA would risk accusations of hypocrisy were it not to support the United bid.
The Telegraph has learnt the Welsh FA is planning to vote the same way following presentations made to each of the home nations by each bid team last week.
It is understood a potential FA bid for the 2030 World Cup – which could yet involve the other home nations – will have no bearing on its own selection.
Whoever loses on Wednesday could be a potential rival for that tournament if the FA decided to enter the race.
The United bid is very much the favourite to bring the World Cup back to North America for the first time since 1994. But footballing and traditional politics mean a shock Morocco victory cannot be ruled out either.
That would be a financial and reputational disaster for Fifa just three years after it faced extinction over the fallout from the discredited 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes.
One consequence of that was the opening up of the ballot from its executive committee to its member associations, 207 of which will determine Wednesday’s outcome.
As of Monday afternoon, more than three-quarters had yet to declare their intentions, with 26 committed to North America and one more leaning that way. Another 17 were backing Morocco, with a further 10 leaning that way.
The French-speaking country’s supporters included France, Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as Russia and Serbia.
However, although no European nation has publicly declared for the United bid, the majority are expected to vote for it, potentially carrying it over the line.
Donald Trump has been blamed for the US-led bid’s failure to sew up the ballot prior to Wednesday, with his increasingly-isolationist policies and rhetoric proving toxic to its campaign.
Monday saw both bid teams attempt to win over wavering associations by presenting at confederation meetings in Moscow.
Whatever happens on Wednesday, the bidders will know who has voted for them, with each association’s choice made public.
Barring any technical glitches, the ballot will also be conducted electronically and the result displayed instantly, signalling the end of the envelope-opening ceremonies of the past.