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FIFA Council sends Morocco and United 2026 on to congress shootout

by Keir Radnedge, AIPS Football Commission Chairman

MOSCOW, June 11, 2018 - Morocco and the United States – plus Canada and Mexico – have passed the last hurdle on the way to a decisive vote in FIFA Congress for host rights to the 2026 World Cup.

The first hurdle was gaining the approval of a five-man evaluation task force and the second, now accomplished, has obtained the approval of the world federation’s council which met in Moscow ahead of Wednesday’s annual congress.

Morocco had been the more worried about the process, fearing that FIFA president Gianni Infantino privately preferred the financial prospects of a tournament across the length and breadth of central and north America rather than one in the north-west corner of Africa.

A FIFA statement said: “On Wednesday, 13 June, the FIFA Congress will determine whether to award the right to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup to one of the two candidates.

“In the event that the 68th FIFA Congress decides not to choose either of the candidates, FIFA will then launch a new procedure by inviting all member associations – except the four that are taking part in the current process – to submit a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

Two other notable issues were resolved concerning the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams in Qatar in 2022 and the calculations of the monthly FIFA World Ranking.

Congress had been scheduled to discuss setting up a study group to consider rushing the World Cup expansion four years ahead of its scheduled introduction in 2026. However there was concern among some delegates about undue haste which had been proposed earlier this year by the South American confederation.

The issue will now be removed from the congress agenda while talks are undertaken with the Qatar organisers for whom expansion at such short notice would raise a number of complex and expensive logistical issues.

Infantino said later: “The FIFA administration will discuss with the hosts and then we will see. For the moment, what there is is a World Cup with 32 teams.”

As for the world ranking, a revision of the system was approved by council to iron out flaws which have arisen over possible manipulations of the comparative statistics.

Infantino said: “We agreed on changing the way this is calculated, we want to make it more logical. A new formula will be introduced after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“We think the new system will be more balanced. It gives, I think, some more weight to official matches and so on but also takes away some of these imbalances we had before. I hope it will be a little less subject to criticism.”

Council also formally approved the start of the electoral process for the presidency which is scheduled to be undertaken at next year’s congress in Zurich. Infantino is expected to seek re-election, three years after he succeeded the banned Sepp Blatter.
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