Blatter will be at the World Cup as a guest of Putin


Back in 2010, Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Federation Internationale de Football Association president of the time Sepp Blatter after Russia was announced as the host for the 2018 World Cup. The US, Mexico and Canada received 134 votes with the Morocco bid earning 65 votes.

Of the 16 host cities, 10 will be in the United States while the remainder will be split evenly between Canada and Mexico.

The North American bid began the campaign as strong favourites but Morocco has enjoyed some success over recent months and the result could be closer than anticipated.

The 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada after FIFA's congress voted overwhelmingly to back the tri-nation joint bid for the tournament.

The 2018 World Cup opening match and final will be played in Moscow at the Luzhniki stadium. Canada has never hosted a men's World Cup but held the women's tournament in 2015. It will be the first time since 1994 that the US will have hosted the monthlong soccer extravaganza, and will come two years before Los Angeles welcomes back the 2028 Summer Olympics.

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Eight years ago, the USA was in a similar position, when it bid for the 2022 tournament.

However, FIFA previously ruled that should the "United bid" beat out Morocco, the number of host countries to automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup would be decided by another vote by the FIFA council sometime in the future.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in October both Blatter and ex-UEFA head Michel Platini, who was also suspended following an ethics investigation, would be welcome at the World Cup as "old friends" of the Russian president.

It was always going to take something special to resuscitate the game in America and the 1994 World Cup did just that, capturing the imagination of a generation of sports fans, while helping plant the seeds for what would be born two years later as Major League Soccer.

CONCACAF, whose president - Canadian Victor Montagliani - played a key role in the bid, called the vote a "monumental victory" for the confederation that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar.