FIFA calls 2026 World Cup candidates for meeting in Zurich

ZURICH (AP) FIFA’s bid inspectors will hold a meeting in Zurich on Wednesday with the North American and Moroccan candidates hoping to host the 2026 World Cup.

Officials from the joint United States-Canada-Mexico team and Morocco are invited to answer questions from a FIFA-appointed panel evaluating their bids ahead of the June 13 vote, FIFA said Monday.

No date is set to publish the evaluation reports ahead of the vote by up to 207 FIFA member federations in Moscow.

Though voters are not obliged to factor the reports into their choice, FIFA put a more rigorous assessment system in place after criticism of the 2018-2022 World Cup hosting votes in December 2010.

Then, some FIFA executive committee members did not read or ignored in-house technical reports which identified eventual winners Russia Qatar as the highest-risk options among nine candidates.

FIFA’s bidding rules now allow the unlikely prospect of its five-man task force disqualifying a candidate for a low evaluation score.

While all the North American venues are in place for a 48-team, 80-game tournament, Morocco’s bid plan calls for building or renovating 14 stadiums and more than 100 training bases.

The FIFA panel made three-day visits to tour parts of both bidders’ projects in April, and Morocco was visited a second time to clarify more details.

Both candidates must be formally approved by FIFA’s ruling council at a June 10 meeting in Moscow to get on the ballot paper.