NORTH AMER­ICA LIKELY 2026 HOSTS

No ri­val bids to joint US, Mex­ico and Canada pro­posal

New Straits Times - - Sport -

THE rul­ing coun­cil of foot­ball’s world gov­ern­ing body Fifa is likely to back a three-na­tion North Amer­i­can bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

With no ri­val bid hav­ing emerged, the or­gan­is­ers of the joint pro­posal from the United States, Mex­ico and Canada want a “non-com­pet­i­tive win­dow” to pre­pare their de­tailed plan and then be given full, for­mal rat­i­fi­ca­tion in 2018.

A mo­tion to fast-track the North Amer­i­can bid will be in front of Fifa’s congress to­mor­row but the smaller lead­er­ship body, the Fifa Coun­cil, was to give its ver­dict on the idea late yes­ter­day.

Fre­quently in Fifa pol­i­tics, the guid­ance of the coun­cil, pre­vi­ously the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, is loy­ally fol­lowed by the full mem­ber­ship, mak­ing yes­ter­day’s meet­ing cru­cial for the North Amer­i­cans.

While there is plenty of con­fi­dence around the three-na­tion bid, Fifa sec­re­tary gen­eral Fatma Samoura said she was keen to en­sure the coun­cil hears the plan in full be­fore giving its vot­ing guid­ance to congress.

“We will lis­ten to what the three mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions are go­ing to pro­pose and then we will take it forward.

“We need more in­for­ma­tion be­fore we can take it to congress,” she said on Mon­day.

“The coun­cil will be dis­cussing the pro­posal and see how it has to go to the congress,” she added, con­firm­ing that a rec­om­men­da­tion on the vote would be made.

“What the ad­min­is­tra­tion is con­cerned about is that the bid­ding process is free, in­clu­sive and trans­par­ent and we will make sure that the high­est level of stan­dards are re­spected and en­dorsed by any­one who would like to make a pro­posal to host the World Cup,” said Fatma.

The pro­posal be­fore congress from the three North Amer­i­can fed­er­a­tions calls for a “prin­ci­ple de­ci­sion” in favour of their bid and says they will aim to “sat­isfy the tech­ni­cal bid re­quire­ments by March 31, 2018.”

Should those re­quire­ments be met, as those be­hind the bid be­lieve they will be, the pro­posal calls for a fi­nal rat­i­fi­ca­tion at the 2018 Fifa congress.

The ap­proach is sig­nif­i­cantly faster than Fifa’s orig­i­nal sched­ule of a bid­ding process con­clud­ing in 2020.

The three-na­tion bid al­ready has plans in place to move quickly on cre­at­ing a more for­mal struc­ture as soon as they get the green light from Fifa’s mem­ber­ship.

So far no ri­val bid for 2026 has emerged although there have been re­ports that Morocco could join the race.

The 2018 tour­na­ment will be held in Rus­sia with Qatar host­ing the fi­nals in 2022.

Fifa’s cur­rent ro­ta­tion pol­icy states that the con­ti­nen­tal con­fed­er­a­tion which held the pre­vi­ous two events can­not bid, rul­ing Europe and Asia out of the 2026 run­ning.

Fifa have also voted to ex­pand the World Cup to 48 teams for the 2026 edi­tion, re­quir­ing more fa­cil­i­ties to han­dle the in­crease to 80 games while also open­ing the door to joint bids.

The North Amer­i­can pro­posal is for 60 games in the US with Mex­ico and Canada each get­ting 10 early stage matches. Reuters

REUTERS PIC

Fifa pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino (sec­ond from right) leaves af­ter at­tend­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion ses­sion of AFC Congress in Manama on Mon­day.

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