While bidding for a World Cup is typically a years-long process, the United States, Mexico and Canada are asking FIFA to make its decision much more quickly on the joint bid they announced Monday.
The official timeline to select a host for the 2026 World Cup is set for May 2020, but the joint CONCACAF bid has asked FIFA to begin considering their proposal next month, with a decision that could come as quickly as next year, well ahead of schedule.
The bid group formally sent a letter to FIFA asking that matter be taken up at FIFA’s Ordinary Congress meeting on May 11. Then, after the group submits their proposal, the host could be approved the next time the FIFA Congress meets in 2018.
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The letter specifically asks that FIFA first consider only the joint USA-Mexico-Canada bid before opening the process to other bidders. If the joint bid does not meet FIFA’s technical specifications (which is unlikely), then it would be opened up other bids. Right now, the CONCACAF group is the only one to announce its intention to bid.
While FIFA agreeing to a non-competitive window in the bidding process would be unusual, it would also probably cut out an unnecessarily long period of deliberation. Any North American bid would be the front-runner since the region has gone the longest without hosting a World Cup, and this bid encompasses all of the North American countries most capable of hosting a World Cup.
An expedited bidding process might also be attractive to FIFA now that it has voted to expand the World Cup beginning in 2026. At 48 teams, the 2026 World Cup will be the biggest-ever iteration of the tournament, and it makes sense to give the host as much times as possible to prepare.
If FIFA agrees to the CONCACAF bid group’s proposal, the U.S., Mexico and Canada would probably be confirmed hosts during next summer’s World Cup. Although the 2018 FIFA Congress isn’t yet set, it would likely happen during the World Cup in Russia and a vote on the 2026 World Cup host could be done then. The FIFA Congress met during the 2014 and 2010 World Cups.