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The United States, Mexico and Canada won the right to host the 2026 World Cup after easily beating Morocco in a vote by FIFA member nations on Wednesday.
The North American bid received 134 of the 203 votes, while Morocco polled 65 in the ballot at a FIFA Congress held in Moscow on the eve of the 2018 World Cup.
Football’s showpiece event will return to the North American continent for the first time since 1994 when the United States hosted the tournament.
Delegates had been faced with a clear choice — the joint North American bid boasts modern, established stadiums and well-developed transport links underpinned by Mexican football fervour.
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Morocco, on the other hand, promised a “European” World Cup in Africa, playing on the north African nation’s proximity to Europe.
But compared to North America, Morocco’s bid existed largely on paper — many stadiums and roads would have had to have been built and critics questioned how it would have coped with the 2026 tournament, which will be expanded to 48 teams.
FIFA inspectors classified the north African nation’s stadiums, accommodation and transport as “high risk”, awarding it just 2.7 out of five in an evaluation report, with concerns raised over several critical aspects.
They warned “the amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become reality cannot be overstated”.
The report made the US-Canada-Mexico bid the clear favourite after rating it four out of five, and Morocco was not able to bridge the gap.
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Abiy Ahmed wins the 2019 Nobel Peace Award
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for immersly efforts to end two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.
Though Africa’s youngest leader still faces big challenges, he has in under two years in power begun political and economic reforms that promise a better life for many in impoverished Ethiopia and restored ties with Eritrea that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war.
“We are proud as a nation,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, hailing a “collective win for all Ethiopians, and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia – the new horizon of hope – a prosperous nation for all.”
It said the prize was meant to recognize “all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.”
The Nobel Committee’s decision appeared designed to encourage the peace process, echoing the 1994 peace prize shared by Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the 1993 award for moves towards reconciliation in South Africa, said Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
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