(WFI) FIFA is putting the brakes on a North American effort to fast-track the awarding of the 2026 World Cup.
The United States, Canada and Mexico were hoping to speed up the process, including moving up the host city selection to May 2018 from May 2020.
The CONCACAF bid reasons that if the three countries could 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.
FIFA agreed to discuss the request, adding it to the agenda for this week’s Congress in Bahrain.
Despite reports of widespread support for the plan, the FIFA Council, chaired by president Gianni Infantino, threw tepid water on it on Tuesday.
According to media reports from Bahrain, the Council instead is giving possible bidders another three months to express interest for 2026. Once the interest is made public, the new bidder would have an additional year to present a formal bid.
Officially, the FIFA Congress and not the Council has the final vote in situations like this but the Congress historically rubber stamps the decisions made by the Council and its predecessor, the Executive Committee.
The delay in awarding the 2026 World Cup to North America could likely prove to be a moot point since the FIFA Council also decided to keep in place the rotational guidelines to host the sport’s showpiece event. Countries in Europe and Asia are thus ineligible to bid for the event with Russia and Qatar hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.
A bid from South America is publicly planned for 2030, marking 100 years since the first World Cup was held in Uruguay.
Since Oceania has already come out in support of the CONCACAF bid, that leaves only Africa as a possible player for 2026. There is no country on that continent that is realistically capable of hosting the expanded 48-team tournament.
Essentially, the decision by the FIFA Council keeps the open bidding for 2026 on the table while imposing a tighter time limit that will ultimately mean the CONCACAF bid will likely be awarded well before the original May 2020 date.
By INSIDER Gerard Farek
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