CONCACAF gets boost in bid to host 2026 World Cup

Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:29am EDT
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By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - The United States, Canada and Mexico's hopes of hosting the 2026 World Cup were handed a significant boost when European countries were effectively ruled out of bidding by FIFA on Friday.

The FIFA Council also confirmed that co-hosting would be allowed and said there would be no restriction on the number of countries in a given bid.

Discussions on whether to increase the number of teams from 32 to 40 or even 48 teams, plus the tournament format, will continue with a final decision on Jan. 9 or 10.

The deadline for bids for the 2026 World Cup to be submitted is December 2018 with a final decision due in May 2020.

The FIFA Council agreed to the "general principle that member associations from confederations of the last two hosts of the FIFA World Cup will be ineligible to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup," FIFA said.

As Russia and Qatar will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively, the decision means that neither European nor Asian countries will be eligible for 2026.

However, world soccer's ruling body said that European, but not Asian, bids could be authorized "in the event that none of the received bids fulfil the strict technical and financial requirements".

"It limits the numbers of confederations that are bidding," Sunil Gulati, president of the United States Football Federation, told reporters.   Continued...

FIFA President Gianni Infantino gestures after a meeting of the FIFA Council at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland October 14, 2016.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann