During the 67th FIFA Congress on May 11, 2017 in Manama, Bahrain, the organization's 211 member associations ratified the next stages of the bidding process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Here's what it means for the USA's unified bid with Mexico and Canada:
FIFA Congress Approves Expedited (But Not Exclusive) Bid Process for the 2026 World Cup
In the past, the bidding process for a World Cup took years.
Countries would state their intention to submit a bid, put their official bid together and officially submit it to FIFA. In return, the FIFA Executive Committee would review each bid – which included site visits to each country – discuss and then finally vote and announce their decision.
But what if the number of bidders was low? Would it make sense to go through that same long, deliberate process?
That’s basically what the United States, Mexico and Canada were asking when they sent a proposal to FIFA for an exclusive window to prepare their bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
As the only official bid at the moment, the goal of the proposal was to obtain a non-competitive window where they could prepare their bid by March 2018, and if it met all of FIFA’s technical specifications, provide FIFA the opportunity to fast-track awarding the World Cup to North America in June 2018 instead of the originally proposed timeline of 2020.
In the end, FIFA said yes and no.
During the FIFA Congress on May 11 in Manama, Bahrain, the 211 members voted (93 percent) to streamline the timetable for making a decision on the 2026 World Cup host, but allotted a three-month window for any additional countries to submit a bid to rival the unified one from the United States, Mexico and Canada. The deadline for other submissions is Aug. 11, 2017.
The decision on whether to select any of the bidders as the host(s) of the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be taken up during the 68th FIFA Congress, which will convene in Moscow on June 13 next year, on the eve of the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Which Countries Could Also Submit a Bid?
Based on FIFA’s regulations, member associations (or countries) from UEFA (Europe) and AFC (Asia) are not eligible to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup since countries in those regions will host the next two tournaments – Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
That leaves only countries from the four other confederations eligible to submit a bid for the 2026 World Cup: CONCACAF, CAF (Africa), CONMEBOL (South America) and OFC (Oceania). Editor’s Note: Oceania consists of New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, and other Pacific Island countries.
With CONCACAF covered by the unified bid between the United States, Mexico and Canada, that leaves the option that a country (or countries in a joint bid) from Africa, South America or Oceania could throw their hat into the ring.
But will a country from the other three eligible Confederations submit a bid?
Most reports are saying Oceania and South America will take a pass, but that Africa is still a possibility. And the African country that keeps getting mentioned?
It’s not clear yet if Morocco will jump into the mix, but it’s well known the country has a huge desire to host the biggest sporting event in the World. The northern African nation has lost out on World Cup bids no less than four times in the past: 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010. So, yea, they’re kind of interested.
What are the Requirements Every Bid Needs to Meet?
While the exact parameters of the bid have not been finalized by FIFA, the information that will likely be requested will include: stadium and infrastructure requirements, principles of sustainable event management, human rights and environmental protection, and details on aspects such as governmental support documents, the organizational model to be adopted and provisions for the establishment of a legacy fund.
A complete version of the bid requirements will eventually be dispatched to member associations that register to take part in the 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding process.
Timeline of Next Steps
So, here’s the confirmed timeline for the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup:
- Aug. 11, 2017 – Deadline for any eligible country to officially state their intention to bid for the 2026 World Cup
- March 2018 – Deadline for all countries bidding for the 2026 World Cup to submit their official proposal or “bid book” to FIFA
- June 13, 2018 – Vote by the FIFA Congress to determine the host for the 2026 World Cup
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the First with 48 Teams
FIFA voted to increase the size of the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams earlier this year, and the 2026 World Cup will be the first to be organized with the increased format.
With more teams qualifying, FIFA also had to determine the distribution of berths from each Confederation. Here’s the breakdown for 2026:
- AFC: 8.5 slots
- CAF: 9.5 slots
- CONCACAF: 6.5 slots
- CONMEBOL: 6.5 slots
- OFC: 1.5 slot
- UEFA: 16.5 slots
The approved slot allocation includes an intercontinental playoff tournament involving six teams to decide the last two FIFA World Cup berths.
The host country would also automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup, and its slot would be taken from the quota of its confederation. In the event of co-hosting, the number of host countries to qualify automatically would be decided by the FIFA Council.