NEW YORK, June 14 (Xinhua) -- While football fans around the world are waiting for the 2018 Russia World Cup to kick off on Thursday, sports enthusiasts in North America had a big day even earlier.
The United States, Canada and Mexico won their joint bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup at the 68th FIFA Congress held in Moscow on Wednesday. Steve, 68, a retired U.S. technician, who called himself a devoted football fan, looked animated at the "great news".
During the annual FIFA conference on the eve of the 2018 Russia World Cup, representatives from 200 member federations cast a vote. The joint American candidacy received 134 votes to Morocco's 65 while one member association opted not to choose either candidacy.
"I'm excited for the tourism-based economic surge it will bring to the U.S., " Eric Newell, an Emory University senior told Xinhua. "It will give citizens among the three countries some sense of unity in love of the sport."
It will be the first time that football's flagship tournament will be hosted by three nations, with the majority of games to be held in the United States.
The United States will host 60 of the 80 matches, including all of the quarterfinals, semifinals and the final. Mexico and Canada will stage 10 games each.
The United States previously hosted the World Cup in 1994 while Mexico staged the event in 1970 and 1986. It will be the first time the competition is played in Canada. "It's a good idea for a unified bid, but a lot of issues need to be figured out before the event," Jose Smith, 50, told Xinhua, adding that collaboration itself is a big challenge when co-hosting one of the world's biggest sporting spectacles.
There are also political and economic issues to be fixed among the three nations, he added. Darryl, 42, a U.S. bus driver said it's normally "an extra burden for taxpayers" since the cost of building new facilities and upgrading venues is huge. Since the announcement of the united bid in April 2017, relations between the U.S. and its proposed co-hosts have been touchy at times.
The United States, Mexico and Canada, three partners of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have been struggling to update their free trade pact.
The renegotiating of NAFTA started from August 2017 at the request of U.S. President Donald Trump, who feels the free-trade pact has been bad for the U.S. economy. The three countries remain divided over the rules of origin for automobiles and other issues following months-long negotiations.
The situation has been complicated by the Trump administration using the so-called Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act from 1962 to unilaterally slap tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products from its key trade partners including Canada and Mexico.
As of June 1, the United States imposed steep tariffs on imported steel (25 percent) and aluminum (10 percent) from the European Union as well as Mexico and Canada.
Canada and Mexico announced dollar-for-dollar retaliation tariffs on U.S. products. Changes in tariffs and quotas will impact the U.S. economy substantially and have immediate effects on the smaller economies, said Bart van Ark, Chief Economist of The Conference Board, when drawing up the escalating risks of trade wars among NAFTA partners.
While some hailed the three countries' sharing of the tournament in 2026, saying it could be a chance to mitigate the disputes, others were more pessimistic about the geopolitical uncertainties eight years from now.
"My concerns mostly stem from the fact that our president seems to be alienating everyone right now, and I don't know what our relationship with those countries will be by 2026," Sam Frischling, a U.S. college student told Xinhua.