LONDON, January 2, 2018 - The favourites’ status of the United States, Canada and Mexico in their 2026 World Cup hosting bid has been underscored by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
The head of the world football federation spoke about the positives advantages of co-hosting while in Dubai, confirming reversal of preference for single-nation staging ever since the complex, high-cost experience of Japan and South Korea in 2002.
A decisive factor in the change of heart has been the expansion of the finals from 32 to 48 teams in 2026 for which the only other declared candidate is Morocco. FIFA Congress will vote on June 23, on the eve of the kickoff of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow.
Infantino said: “Joint nominations are good, and the fact that Canada, the United States and Mexico are united in a common project is a positive message… FIFA does not have the right to impose heavy burdens on a single country if an event can be organised in several. ”
Many African sources believe the Moroccan bid was more of a political statement to promote the federation’s ambition to replace Cameroon as host to the 2019 Nations Cup finals.
FIFA’s decision to stage the 2026 host vote at congress was hardly good news for the Russian organisers of the 2018 finals. However postponing a vote to next year would have been impossible because that is scheduled to be an election congress.
The present situation – offering President Donald Trump plenty of social media opportunities to tweet up US status in international sport – has also arisen as a consequence of the need to reform the bid operation.
The scandal-ridden decisions in December 2010 concerning the 2018 and 2022 finals prompted reforms by which the decision was removed from the then executive committee and returned to congress which meets only once a year.
New rules mean that the votes of all members of the FIFA Council and congress delegates will be open to public scrutiny. However the likelihood remains that Morocco could withdraw before such an ‘open’ vote and the CONCACAF trio can be awarded the 2026 finals by acclamation.