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North American trio beats Morocco to host 2026 World Cup

Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 7:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 6:59 AM


            Delegates of Canada, Mexico and the United States celebrate after winning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup at the FIFA congress in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Standing on front row from left: Steve Reed, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, Carlos Cordeiro, U.S. soccer president and Decio de Maria, President of the Football Association of Mexico. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Delegates of Canada, Mexico and the United States celebrate after winning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup at the FIFA congress in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Standing on front row from left: Steve Reed, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, Carlos Cordeiro, U.S. soccer president and Decio de Maria, President of the Football Association of Mexico. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted Wednesday for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over a risky Moroccan proposal for the first 48-team tournament.

The soccer showpiece will return to the U.S. for the first time since 1994 after gaining 134 votes, while Morocco got 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow, where the 2018 tournaments starts on Thursday.

"Thank you for entrusting us with this privilege," U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro told the congress. "The beautiful game transcends borders and cultures."

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted after the victory : "Congratulations, - a great deal of hard work!"

While Trump has been feuding with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over tariffs and policy after the G-7 meeting and with Mexican leaders about his proposed border wall, the heads of state are not heavily involved in this World Cup bid. Even if Trump wins re-election, his presidency would end before the 2026 World Cup.

The vote by national football federations was public, in contrast to secrecy surrounding the 2010 vote when FIFA's elected board members picked Russia to host in 2018 and Qatar in 2022, defeating the U.S.

The regional bid proved more appealing this time and the North Americans even collected 11 votes from Africa.

"The United bid was strong and if it was just the United States, I think Morocco would have beaten them," said Cameroon federation official Kevin Njomo, whose country voted for Morocco. "People have a soft spot for Mexico, especially looking at Mexico as a little bit under-developed and giving them a chance. Canada is a good tourist destination.

"But I think where it had the advantage was the World Cup would be more profitable in America and it is a capitalist world."

North America is optimistically promising to deliver $14 billion in revenue helped, while the tournament won't require major construction work required on the 16 planned stadiums, all of which already exist.

The U.S. proposed staging 60 out of the 80 games in 2026, when 16 teams will be added to the tournament, leaving Canada and Mexico with ten fixtures each. But FIFA President Gianni Infantino suggested the split of games could change.

"They have made a decision among themselves but ultimately it will be up to FIFA to decide," Infantino said.

Morocco appeared too hazardous as a potential host when all 14 venues had to be built or renovated as part of a $16 billion investment in new infrastructure. The vote leaves Morocco reeling from a fifth failure in a World Cup hosting vote, with the continent's sole tournament coming in 2010 in South Africa.

Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani shared the national disappointment but tweeted his thanks to the bid organizers for "this common dream."

Moroccan sports journalist Omar Chraybi acknowledged that "technically speaking, it's understandable - the U.S. bid capacity surpasses Morocco's." Yet he didn't lose hope, saying, "The world still looks at Africa as an underdog, but we can't afford to give up."

While Morocco's combined tickets and hospitality revenue projected to be $1.07 billion, according to FIFA analysis, North America would generate $2 billion more.

Canada will host men's World Cup matches for the first time, while Mexico gets its first taste of the event since 1986.

"To have a message coming from football that says actually Mexico, Canada and the United States together can organize the biggest sporting and social event together," Infantino said. "It is a nice message."

The 87,000-capacity MetLife Stadium outside New York — home of the NFL's Giants and Jets — is proposed for the final. It's just miles from where federal prosecutors spearheaded an ongoing investigation into FIFA corruption. More than 40 soccer officials and businesses indicted, convicted or pleaded guilty.

The bribery scandal put the governing body on the brink, Infantino told the congress ahead of Wednesday's vote.

"FIFA was clinically dead as an organization," Infantino said, reflecting on his election in 2016 before announcing plans to another four-year term in 2019. "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 current FIFA leaders don't hold grudges against a country whose government has jailed corrupt sports leaders.

"When they help us fight against corruption, of course, we are pleased," Infantino said.

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.

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 seven guaranteed qualification slots reserved for the region as host. Both the United States and Canada failed to qualify for this year's World Cup.

There is also a chance to send an eighth 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.

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Amira El Masaiti in Rabat, Morocco contributed to this report.

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AP World Cup coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

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Burger King sorry for Russian ad offering free Whoppers to women impregnated by World Cup players

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 2:41 PM

FILE- This Feb. 1, 2018, file photo shows a Burger King Whopper meal combo at a restaurant in the United States. Burger King says it's sorry for offering a lifetime supply of Whoppers to Russian women who get pregnant from World Cup players. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Gene J. Puskar/AP
FILE- This Feb. 1, 2018, file photo shows a Burger King Whopper meal combo at a restaurant in the United States. Burger King says it's sorry for offering a lifetime supply of Whoppers to Russian women who get pregnant from World Cup players. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)(Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Several corporations have launched campaigns for the World Cup, but Burger King is being criticized for one many have called offensive and sexist.

On Tuesday, the Russian division of the fast-food chain announced a new promotion online that offered women $47,000 and a lifetime supply of Whoppers if they got impregnated by athletes competing in the series. 

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“It is a reward for the girls who would get pregnant from the international football superstars,” read the campaign, which was posted on the Russian social media platform Vkontakte

Soon after it was uploaded, the company received backlash on Twitter.

Burger King later removed the advertisement, but it was still being posted by Russian social network users.

“We are sorry about the clearly offensive promotion that the team in Russia launched online,” Burger King said in a statement to The Associated Press, adding that the offer “does not reflect our brand or our values and we are taking steps to ensure this type of activity does not happen again.”

This isn’t the first time the Russian division of the company has been condemned. Last year, it depicted a 17-year-old rape victim in a “buy one burger get one free” ad. It was also taken down. 

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WATCH: Baby elephants get exercise by playing soccer

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

Baby elephants play soccer

Two young elephants had fun with a soccer ball at an elephant rescue center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, as video obtained from Reuters shows.

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The two elephants, a male named Dok Geaw, and a female named Thong Ae, are both two years old. They were orphaned when they were young, according to Saengduean Lek Chailert, founder of the Save Elephant Foundation. 

Both elephants live in the sanctuary about 60 kilometers from Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, where it currently houses 35 elephants rescued from Thailand's tourism and logging industries since the 1990s, according to their website. 

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There are about 3,700 wild elephants and up to 4,000 domesticated elephants in Thailand, according to British conservation organisation EleAid.

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Birdie traffic selfie: Cockatoo inspects traffic camera, wins the web

Published: Friday, June 01, 2018 @ 8:46 AM

VIDEO: Bird Inspects Highway Cam, Goes Viral

A cockatoo is winning the animal internet contest Friday, if there really was such a thing.

Traffic on a road in Cairns, Australia was going smoothly so there was nothing to see, except for the curious cockatoo that was checking out a traffic camera, 9 News reported.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads posted the video to Facebook where it is closing in on a million views within nine hours of being uploaded. 

It may not have been the camera itself that piqued the interest of the cockatoo. 

A bird expert said that it could have actually been looking at itself.

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“If it’s seeing its reflection it may be communicating in some way. They are very social creatures, and they recognize individuals. A lot of them have friendship groups like we do,” Dr. Adrian Gallagher told ABC.net.

And the bird knows where to look for his reflection. Officials told ABC that this specific bird has visited the camera before. 

“Our traffic management operators sometimes have to give the camera a jiggle to make him fly away when he chews on the camera and cables,” a spokesperson told ABC.

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Parking fail: Valet drives Porsche under SUV

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 7:47 AM

Valet Crashes Porsche In Front of Hotel

No normal bad day of work will compare to a valet’s bad day in Sydney, Australia.

Imagine being in charge of parking a Porsche Carrera and ending up with this:

The Porsche is the crushed car, wedged under the orange SUV. 

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An eyewitness described what happened, CNN reported

“I saw the valet hit the car in from of a parked position,” Jonathan Bouzaid said. “He must have panicked and hit the accelerator causing the Porsche to go further under the orange car and pushing the white car in to the bollards.”

Bouzaid surmised that the valet didn’t realize how powerful a Porsche can be.

CNN reported that the car can go from 0 to 62 in less than five seconds.

The valet had to be cut from the soft-top luxury sports car, Time reported.

He was physically OK, but the Hyatt hotel’s sales and marketing director said the driver was embarrassed and in shock.

The Porsche had damage to the hood and front bumper and was towed from the scene, Time reported.

Some witnesses said they thought the crash was part of a stunt, 9 News in Australia reported.

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