North America won’t have exclusive bidding rights to the 2026 World Cup, but FIFA did approve the fast-tracking process to determine hosting duty, making the path a bit easier for the combined bid from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
At Wednesday’s FIFA congress, FIFA officially approved the fast-tracking process with ninety-three percent of the 209 members voting in favor of the plan. As a result, any nations looking to compete with the combined U.S., Canada, Mexico bid would need to submit a proposal by Aug. 11 before meeting a list of FIFA’s technical specifications by March 2018.
A final decision on which bid will be awarded hosting duties will be made at the 68th FIFA Congress, which will convene in Moscow on June 13, 2018.
“We asked for both, but we’re very pleased with the outcome, for us the far more important issue was the short window, and that’s for a lot of different reasons,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati told ESPN. “We think we’re particularly well placed in a short window but the thought of a three-year process trying to visit 211 members. We’re ready to go.
“There will be a short window and whether other people come in or not, our bid won’t be any different. We’re going to bid aggressively on meeting those standards, so we’re pleased with yesterday’s outcome.”
Gulati says he expects meetings to begin next week as the three nations look to combine to get the ball rolling. President Donald Trump has been particularly supportive, Gulati said, as have various sections of the governments across the three nations.
“I think we’re going to have an extraordinary bid,” Gulati said. “We weren’t going to be awarded the World Cup in these next two days regardless. It was going to be a process to meet a certain set of standards. We’re going to meet and exceed those standards. Whether there are other bids or not, we’re going to have an irresistible bid for the FIFA congress next summer.”