GENEVA (AP) – The North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup has asked FIFA for a decision in June 2018, two years ahead of schedule.
In a letter seen by The Associated Press, the soccer federations from the United States, Canada and Mexico asked FIFA to consider their request next month in Bahrain at its annual congress.
The bid, launched in New York on Monday, is likely the only realistic option for FIFA’s 211 member federations who are scheduled to choose the 2026 host in May 2020. That timetable could be fast-tracked on May 11 in Manama.
The extra agenda item, written in the letter dated March 11, asks FIFA members to make a “principle decision” for the 2026 tournament to be “jointly and cooperatively organized” in North America.
If approved, FIFA could then ask the bid to show the Zurich-based administration it meets all technical demands by a March 31 deadline.
That would allow time to prepare a confirmation of the 2026 hosts at the next congress in Moscow. The Russian capital hosts the annual meeting on the eve of the opening match of the 2018 World Cup.
FIFA bidding rules have made the North American bid a strong favorite to win because Europe and Asia cannot present a candidate. Those continents are blocked because they will have staged the previous two editions in Russia and Qatar.
Although South America and Africa can rival the U.S.-led bid, Argentina and Uruguay the original World Cup host in 1930 are focused on a centenary tournament in 2030. Africa is seen as lacking facilities even for a co-hosting bid for an expanded 48-team World Cup, which has added demand for stadiums, training camps, hotels and transport.
“Should the cooperative bid … not satisfy the technical bid requirements, the bidding process will be re-opened to all Member Associations under the conditions set out by the FIFA Council,” the North American officials wrote in their letter.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)