HASH(0xb5cbb0)

North America set for fast-tracked 2026 World Cup decision

North America set for fast-tracked 2026 World Cup decision

MANAMA, Bahrain — An accelerated process to hand North America the 2026 World Cup is set to be approved by soccer leaders this week, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino hoping for a “bulletproof” process to avoid past voting scandals.

The United States, Canada, and Mexico are seeking an unchallenged path to co-hosting rights for the 2026 showpiece, if FIFA’s technical requirements are met by next year

“It’s an interesting, original proposal and we will discuss it tomorrow at the council and present the recommendation to the congress,” Infantino told The Associated Press on Monday in Bahrain at the start of a week of FIFA meetings.

There is expected to be no opposition to fast-tracking the plans at either the council or the congress, where FIFA’s entire 211-strong leadership has the final say.

By avoiding a contest, the process should be resistant to the allegations of wrongdoing that have tainted World Cup votes in recent decades. Past bribery has been exposed, in part, by American prosecutors but the U.S.-led bid is the undisputed favourite for the 2026 World Cup.

“We have seen in the past many questions marks around bidding processes,” Infantino said. “So we have to make sure we have to make sure this process is absolutely bulletproof.”

Under plans announced last month, the United States would stage 60 games, including every fixture from the quarterfinals, while Canada and Mexico would have 10 each.

Despite plans to share the tournament, there is a possibility the U.S. emerges as the solo host — like in 1994 — if its neighbours are considered unsuitable by the FIFA Congress in June 2018. The motion being presented to the congress on Thursday states that the North Americans want the hosting rights if “one or more” of the countries “satisfies the technical bid requirements.”

The North Americans are anticipating the go-ahead on Thursday from the FIFA Congress and have a staff and office space lined up, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the bid plans publicly ahead of FIFA’s approval.

Once that is given, the neighbours will then press ahead will determining which cities will host games. A possible venue for the final is the 80,000-seat stadium that is being built for the Los Angeles Rams NFL team in Inglewood, California, and is due to open in 2019.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura highlighted the importance of assessing the “nitty gritty” of the hosting plans, even if the North Americans are given a clear path to the 2026 World Cup.

“What the administration is concerned about is that the bidding process is free, inclusive, and transparent,” Samoura said. “We will make sure that the highest level of standards are respected.”

___

Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

Rob Harris, The Associated Press

Just Posted

B.C. Ferries faced series of technical problems causing long waits

11:00 ferry now good to go, but lines anticipated

WATCH: City approves Wharf, Humboldt Street bike lanes

Changing intersections, creating pedestrian plazas and more on the agenda

Meet the 2018 Tour de Rock team

Retired Spectrum principal among team introduced at Spectrum

WATCH: Final thoughts before the 75th Swiftsure Yacht Race

Nautical stories and racing strategies of some of the 200 crews heading out to sea Saturday

Saanich Inlet bridge billion-dollar price tag too expensive says ministry

Malahat alternatives not practical from engineering, budget standpoint

Trans Mountain pipeline: How we got here

A look at the Kinder Morgan expansion, decades in the making

Suspected scammer attempts to use Black Press newspaper to dupe woman

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers tips after Langley resident received suspicious call

Vote points to abortion being legalized in Ireland

Voters asked whether to keep or repeal Eighth Amendment to Roman Catholic Ireland’s Constitution

COLUMN: Women’s breasts really aren’t that big a deal

A follow on some Princeton, B.C., students gained considerable exposure when they dropped their bras

Canadian soccer officials talk up World Cup bid at Champions League final

Current bid calls for 2026 World Cup games to be staged in the U.S., Canada and Mexico

B.C.’s devastating 2017 wildfire season revisited in new book

British Columbia Burning written by CBC journalist Bethany Lindsay

Beekeepers offer to pick up unwanted swarms

Capital Region Beekeepers Association sets up swarm line for residents to call

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Most Read