(WFI) FIFA vice president David Chung says “it makes sense” for countries in North America to host the 2026 World Cup.
The FIFA vice president also leads the Oceania Football Confederation which is throwing the support of its 11 members behind the joint World Cup 2026 bid by Canada, Mexico and the United States launched April 10 in New York City.
The three-country proposal would bring world football’s biggest event back to the continent for the first time since 1994, making it the clear frontrunner to host given FIFA’s rotational guidelines. Countries in Europe and Asia are ineligible to bid for the event with Russia and Qatar hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively, and a bid from South America is publicly planned for the 2030 edition.
If successful, the North American bid would be the second World Cup hosted by more than one country, following the 2002 World Cup hosted by South Korea and Japan. The CONCACAF trio is seeking fast-track approval of its proposal and the support by the FIFA vice president seems to suggest it is well on its way.
A month before announcing its bid, CONCACAF and Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani, US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati and Mexican Football Federation president Decio De Maria sent a letter to FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura seeking an exclusive opportunity to present their detailed proposal to FIFA.
The request includes moving up the host city selection to May 2018 instead of May 2020 and including discussions regarding the selection change in the upcoming FIFA Congress on May 11 in Bahrain.
The CONCACAF bid posits that if the three countries can prove they have the necessary infrastructure, venues and other technical bidding requirements to host the expanded 48-team tournament, then FIFA should not hesitate to move up the host city selection by two years.
A day after the announcement of the bid, FIFA released the agenda for its upcoming congress including the request for discussions on the 2026 bidding changes. The CONCACAF bid hopes that by getting all of its ducks in a row early that it can squash the possibility of any rival bidder.
If the bid’s request is approved it will have until March 2018 to outline its plans for the 2026 tournament and convince FIFA’s executive members it is the best, nay only, option to host the 48-team competition. If satisfied with its proposals, FIFA’s executives and president Gianni Infantino would report back to FIFA’s 211 member federations ahead of the May 2018 FIFA Congress where a final vote would take place.
While the bid makes sense from rotational and logistical standpoints, further abrupt changes to the World Cup bidding process could be met with criticism given the situation that unfolded with the awarding of both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups at the FIFA Congress in 2010. FIFA continues to deal with the backlash received from that decision which has led to several corruption allegations and investigations of FIFA’s former leaders.
By INSIDER Kevin Nutley
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