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CONCACAF’s 2026 World Cup bid fast track plan denied by FIFA

Looks like we’re doing this the old-fashioned way.

The joint CONCACAF bid for the 2026 World Cup between the United States, Mexico and Canada will have to wait to go through the traditional bid process. Simon Evans of Reuters reported today that FIFA has denied CONCACAF’s request to fast track the bid through a one-year exclusive negotiation window.

This means that the bid process will be open to nations from OFC (Oceania), CAF (Africa) and CONMEBOL (South America) until August. FIFA today issued the rules of the bid process:

“Based on specific regulations to be issued by the Council, the FIFA administration shall establish a bidding procedure inviting initially only the member associations of CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and the OFC as candidates to submit to FIFA bids to host the final competition of the 2026 FIFA World Cup by 11 August 2017. The 68th FIFA Congress will decide on the selection of the candidate host associations.”

With the 2030 World Cup being the 100th anniversary, it is expected that CONMEBOL-- led by Uruguay and Argentina—will skip 2026 to mount a bid to bring the World Cup back to where it started for its centenary tournament. OFC has already expressed its support for the joint CONCACAF bid, and does not plan on launching its own bid for 2026. That leaves Africa, of which Morocco is the only nation rumored to be considering a bid.

USMNT fans no doubt still have a sour taste in their mouths after the controversial bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups left the United States standing at the altar while Russia and Qatar won under, at best, dubious circumstances. An exclusive negotiation period would have allowed the joint CONCACAF bid the opportunity to show their worth and win the 2026 World Cup without any competitors. With the bid process remaining open for other competitors, fans no doubt are worried that the door is still open for some similar controversy to once again snatch a World Cup from our grasps, or for FIFA to possibly allow other confederations into the process, allowing UEFA (Europe) and AFC (Asia) member nations to put forth competitive bids.

No doubt, this process will be something to keep two eyes on over the next few months as nations in CAF and CONMEBOL decide whether to bid to host in 2026. Nothing has changed about the joint CONCACAF bid with the U.S., Mexico and Canada. We now know it will have to go through the complete bid process.