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Report: France expected to vote against U.S. in 2026 bid

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What once seemed like a certainty is now once again proving to be a nightmare for the United States, as the country’s United bid took a major hit on Thursday.

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L’Equipe spoke with French football president Noel Le Graet, who has stated that France will vote in favor of Morocco ahead of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, leaving the United bid of the United States, Mexico and Canada with another major setback in its plans to host the tournament.

“I don’t see myself not supporting a country that is close to us,” Le Graet said. “Africa has only had one World Cup. That’s not a lot.

“Morocco is ready, even if they don’t have the same means as their fellow contenders. France only has one vote, but perhaps we will give momentum in Europe to choose Morocco.”

Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that two CONCACAF nations — Dominica and Saint Lucia — would also vote for Morocco, going against their fellow North and Central American allies.

The United bid looked a strong favorite to host in 2026 when it was first announced, particularly given the United States’ success hosting the World Cup back in 1994, however, recently the attention has shifted to Morocco, with the country receiving significant support from not only African nations but also Asia and South America, too.

In the voting process for the 2022 World Cup, the U.S. was faced with a similar task in trying to obtain hosting rights. The CONCACAF nation ultimately lost out on hosting to Qatar, despite major links to voter corruption.

Voting for the 2026 World Cup will take place in Russia on June 13, the day before this summer’s tournament takes place.

Morocco touts gun safety in 2026 World Cup bid against U.S.

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Morocco has touted its limited threat from gun crime in a 2026 World Cup bidding proposal to take on the United States-led rival for the soccer showpiece.

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The north African nation highlights safety for visiting fans in bidding documents published by FIFA on Monday that do however show every stadium and training ground requires building work.

By contrast, the North American bid book says it is the low-risk proposition for FIFA since no infrastructure will be built for the first World Cup after the jump from 32 to 48 finalists.

Morocco’s decision to point to “very low gun circulation” comes amidst the growing call for stricter laws regarding firearms in the U.S. following a school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead.

The U.S. is the dominant partner in a North American bid that includes Canada and Mexico.

2026 World Cup bid reveals 23-city list across Canada, Mexico, U.S.

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The United Bid group announced 23 cities as finalists to host matches should the United States, Canada, and Mexico defeat Morocco and win the right to host the 2026 World Cup.

Chicago and Vancouver were reported as departing the bid earlier Thursday.

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Seventeen of the 23 cities are in the United States: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nasvhille, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Washington, D.C.

Mexico has put up three sites: Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey, while Canada still has a trio after Vancouver’s exit: Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton in the running.

Here’s the sales pitch (which is pretty appealing):

“Canada, Mexico, and the United States have joined together to deliver a United Bid that offers FIFA and its member associations the power of unity, the promise of certainty, and the potential of extraordinary opportunity,” said John Kristick, Executive Director of the United Bid. “We are confident that the combination of our 23 existing world-class stadiums, 150 existing elite training facilities, and our modern and interconnected transportation network can help FIFA to achieve new records for attendance and revenue, which will allow the entire global football community to improve and grow.”

US Soccer announces March USMNT friendly vs. Paraguay

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The USMNT will return to North Carolina for the first time since 2006 as they take on Paraguay in a friendly on March 27th at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC.

U.S. Soccer announced the friendly to beef up the 2018 slate as the team looks to cope with missing out on the 2018 World Cup. The game against Paraguay will add to the pair of European friendlies scheduled for June as the USMNT meets France and Ireland, games which had already been announced by the European countries but not yet confirmed by the United States.

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Paraguay provides an intriguing matchup for the United States, as both countries painfully just barely missed out on 2018 World Cup qualification, with both falling out of a qualifying position on the final match day. Paraguay missed out after losing at home to Venezuela 1-0, with Argentina, Colombia, and Peru all grabbing points to jump ahead.

Cary, NC has been a popular place for the US national team to train, but they have not played a game there since drawing Jamaica 1-1 back in April of 2006, a game which served as Tony Meola’s 100th USMNT cap.

The game against Paraguay will be the United States’ only match during the March window, despite reports that they attempted to schedule two games during that time, but had limited options due to the failure to qualify for the World Cup. According to Steven Goff of the Washington Post, the United States attempted to match up against Switzerland for that window, but the European team decided to schedule Panama instead.

Then, as previously announced, the US will head to Europe in early June to meet Ireland in Dublin on June 2nd, followed by a visit to Lyon, France to take on Les Blues a week later.

FIFA to reveal all 2026 World Cup votes, aims for clean bids

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has pledged to publish all votes by soccer officials in the 2026 World Cup bidding race after corruption claims tainted the 2018 and 2022 contests.

Publishing documents Tuesday to guide the process, FIFA explained how bidders must detail a strategy to respect human rights and labor standards in all construction projects linked to the expanded 48-team tournament.

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The North American bid by the United States, Canada and Mexico is strongly favored to be picked on June 13 in Moscow. The other bidder is Morocco.

The 2026 contest is currently barred to European and Asian countries because Russia and Qatar will host the next two tournaments. Both won despite being the highest risk options.

FIFA’s documents outline exactly how to evaluate the 2026 bids.