North America’s leading favorite to host 2026 World Cup

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It’s looking increasingly likely that  an expanded World Cup will hold in North America in 2026 after Fifa essentially restricted European countries from bidding on Friday.

The Fifa Council agreed that Uefa and Asian confederation members should not bid again so soon after Russia hosts the 2018 World Cup and Qatar has the 2022 tournament.

Fifa said Europe would be put on standby only if “none of the received bids fulfill the strict technical and financial requirements.”

This leaves the expected US bid as the frontrunner. It’ll either be alone or with Canada and Mexico.

Fifa favors co-hosting among regional neighbors, and a three-way bid could be more popular if the tournament grows to 40 or 48 teams. However, this will be a logistical nightmare for fans who’ll be made to cover the long commute supporting their nations.

The final decision on whether to expand the tournament will be made on 9-10 January when the Fifa Council meets next in Zurich.

Fifa has targeted 2020 for its member federations to choose the 2026 host.

The United States was the last country in the region to stage the tournament in 1994.Concacaf lost out when a hosting rotation system approved during Sepp Blatter’s presidency was abandoned before its scheduled turn in 2018 came around.

Back then, Fifa preferred to block continents from two World Cup bidding contests after hosting, but when statutes were updated in recent reforms the rule said only one tournament had to be skipped.

The US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said the new clarity in bidding would encourage an entry from the United States.

“We now know some of the rules,” said Gulati, Fifa’s top American official. “We will look at it. We have great relationships with Canada and Mexico. We also have a country with 320 million people that has hosted a World Cup and with a lot of terrific stadiums and great infrastructure.”

A US-hosted World Cup would likely set attendance records – in 1994 there were 3.59 million total fans and an average of 69,000 per match.

Infantino said Friday that a bigger World Cup – potentially of 48 teams and 80 matches with an opening playoff round – would be for the advancement of the sport and “not a financial or political decision.”


via The Guardian

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