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An interior view of the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The bribery scandal put the governing body on the brink, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the congress ahead of Wednesday’s vote.
“FIFA was clinically dead as an organization,” Infantino said, reflecting on his election in 2016. “Two years later, FIFA is alive and well, full of joy and passion and with a vision for its future.”
The North American victory suggests football officials are ready to gather for a World Cup in a country whose government has demonstrated its willingness to jail corrupt sports leaders through undercover investigations.
The North America bid also had to overcome concerns about the impact of policies from the Trump administration, including attempts to implement a ban on travel by residents of six majority-Muslim countries.
The main intervention by President Donald Trump was a warning in a White House news conference, discussing the FIFA vote, that he would be “watching very closely.” It was a veiled threat to withhold U.S. support from countries opposing the bid.
FIFA now has the final say on which cities are selected to host games and whether all three countries are guaranteed a place at the tournament. Victor Montagliani, the Canadian who leads CONCACAF, wants them to take three of the six qualification slots reserved for the region.
There is also a chance to send a seventh team via an inter-continental playoff. North America will host the six-team playoff tournament in November 2025 to decide the last two places in the 48-team lineup.