A proposal to expedite the awarding of the 2026 World Cup from the United States, Canada and Mexico will be discussed at FIFA’s Congress in Bahrain next month, it has been reported.
It comes after FIFA published the agenda for the Congress, due to be held in Manama on May 11.
The agenda shows an item involving all three nations but does not specify the nature of the request.
According to ESPN, the three countries, who officially launched a joint bid for the 2026 tournament yesterday, are hoping FIFA will implement a non-competitive bid window which would see them granted the hosting rights for the tournament without the usual process.
It would involve the establishment of a period where they would produce a report on various aspects needed for the tournament, such as stadium capacities and infrastructure.
Should they meet FIFA’s requirements, which would seem likely judging by the wealth of footballing facilities across the three countries, they would be awarded the event without competing against any other candidates.
Reports in the Associated Press claim the proposal is asking for a decision to be made on the joint bid from the three North American nations as early as June 2018.
FIFA usually decides World Cup host cities six years before the event, meaning a vote on 2026 would not be staged until 2020.
They have already gone against this, however, when they awarded both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively in one go in 2010.
The US, Canadian and Mexican bid is the overwhelming favorite to secure the rights for the 2026 competition.
Due to FIFA’s rotation rules, Europe and Asia cannot bid, while Argentina and Uruguay are thought to be interested in 2030 to mark the 100-year anniversary of the first-ever World Cup.
Morocco could still launch a bid for the 2026 tournament but it is thought an African bid would struggle in comparison with the financial weight behind the joint attempt from the US, Canada and Mexico.
“The agenda of the FIFA Congress is drawn up by the Secretary General, based on proposals from the Council and the member associations, as defined by article 28 of the FIFA Statutes,” a FIFA statement read.
“Member Associations are entitled to submit proposals to the Congress by sending these to the general secretariat in writing, with a brief explanation, at least two months before the date of the Congress.
“This was the case, among others, of a proposal by the Canadian Soccer Association, the Mexican Football Association and the United States Soccer Federation regarding the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”
The 2026 tournament will be the largest-ever edition of the World Cup after the FIFA Council agreed to expand the competition by 16 teams as part of plans spearheaded by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Forty-eight countries will be split into 16 groups of three, with the top two in each progressing to a 32-nation knock-out round.
Should the three-nation bid earn hosting rights, a debate is likely to ensue as to whether each should receive automatic qualification to the tournament.
CONCACAF will receive six berths under the new format, the same number as the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).
There will be 16 European nations, one from Oceania, eight from Asia and nine from Africa, while a play-off tournament has been proposed to decide two remaining spots.
The joint bid comes at a time when US and Mexican relations are strained, after American President Donald Trump pledged to build a wall along the border in a bid to curb illegal immigration.
Trump has also attempted to block travel to the US from a number of largely Islamic countries through executive orders.
Infantino has warned that nations considering bidding for the World Cup must allow any team who qualifies, and their supporters, access to the country.
US Soccer Federation head Sunil Gulati, also a member of FIFA’s ruling Council, claims, however, that Trump is “fully supportive” of the bid and had “encouraged” it.
The full agenda for the FIFA Congress can be read here.
By Liam Morgan
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.