World Cup begins with match between Russia, Saudi Arabia

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FILE PHOTO: Supporters of team Saudi Arabia take part in a motorcycle race on the eve of the 2018 FIFA World Cup near the Bolshoi Theatre in central Moscow, Russia June 13, 2018.

The joint bid had been the front-runner for the 48-team tournament from the moment a North American coalition was first mooted two years ago, and there have been spells when it has looked like the only credible candidate.

Morocco was counting on the strong support of African countries but it seems the ten nations defied the continental solidarity and voted otherwise. The tournament has been jointly hosted only once before, by Japan and Korea in 2002.

"Thank you so, so very much for this incredible honour".

Fifa's president, Gianni Infantino, looked opportunistically quick to immediately put himself forward for re-election next year, and he was followed by USA president Donald Trump with a self-congratulatory tweet.

"The lovely game transcends borders and cultures".

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The United bid also offered Federation Internationale de Football Association the prospect of higher profits: $11 billion compared to Morocco's $5 billion.

Morocco has largely avoided competing with the North Americans in a dash for cash.

While Canada has never hosted-or even qualified for-the men's World Cup, it can count on its more experienced co-hosts and current NAFTA partners. The United States is likely to have 10 cities selected to host games, while Mexico and Canada are expected to each have three.

Just to add to the complexity, there was a third option for all voters: neither Morocco or United and we would have had to start a new bidding process.