HASH(0xb5cbb0)

North America set for fast-tracked 2026 World Cup decision

North America set for fast-tracked 2026 World Cup decision

MANAMA, Bahrain — An accelerated process to hand North America the 2026 World Cup is set to be approved by soccer leaders this week, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino hoping for a “bulletproof” process to avoid past voting scandals.

The United States, Canada, and Mexico are seeking an unchallenged path to co-hosting rights for the 2026 showpiece, if FIFA’s technical requirements are met by next year

“It’s an interesting, original proposal and we will discuss it tomorrow at the council and present the recommendation to the congress,” Infantino told The Associated Press on Monday in Bahrain at the start of a week of FIFA meetings.

There is expected to be no opposition to fast-tracking the plans at either the council or the congress, where FIFA’s entire 211-strong leadership has the final say.

By avoiding a contest, the process should be resistant to the allegations of wrongdoing that have tainted World Cup votes in recent decades. Past bribery has been exposed, in part, by American prosecutors but the U.S.-led bid is the undisputed favourite for the 2026 World Cup.

“We have seen in the past many questions marks around bidding processes,” Infantino said. “So we have to make sure we have to make sure this process is absolutely bulletproof.”

Under plans announced last month, the United States would stage 60 games, including every fixture from the quarterfinals, while Canada and Mexico would have 10 each.

Despite plans to share the tournament, there is a possibility the U.S. emerges as the solo host — like in 1994 — if its neighbours are considered unsuitable by the FIFA Congress in June 2018. The motion being presented to the congress on Thursday states that the North Americans want the hosting rights if “one or more” of the countries “satisfies the technical bid requirements.”

The North Americans are anticipating the go-ahead on Thursday from the FIFA Congress and have a staff and office space lined up, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the bid plans publicly ahead of FIFA’s approval.

Once that is given, the neighbours will then press ahead will determining which cities will host games. A possible venue for the final is the 80,000-seat stadium that is being built for the Los Angeles Rams NFL team in Inglewood, California, and is due to open in 2019.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura highlighted the importance of assessing the “nitty gritty” of the hosting plans, even if the North Americans are given a clear path to the 2026 World Cup.

“What the administration is concerned about is that the bidding process is free, inclusive, and transparent,” Samoura said. “We will make sure that the highest level of standards are respected.”

___

Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

Rob Harris, The Associated Press

Just Posted

City replacing water system component

Some neighbourhoods will have water service interrupted; will be on boil water notice once restored.

Honouring Clayton Murrell and Joan MacKinnon

Family and friends pay tribute to prominent couple in joint celebration of life.

Radium man running for Tory nomination

Dale Shudra looking to represent federal Conservatives in 2019 election

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Construction begins at Dycar medical cannabis production facility

Facility will create around 200 full-time jobs once up and running

WATCH: The week in review

A video recap of the top stories of the past week in Cranbrook

Novelmania: TM Roberts grade 6 students unveil published novels

Novel unveiling ceremony at TM Roberts’ library on Monday, February 19

WATCH: The week in review

A video recap of the top stories of the past week in Cranbrook

Fred Rogers, America’s favourite neighbour, celebrated in 2018

The golden anniversary of America’s favorite neighbor is being celebrated with a PBS special next month

Toddler breaks leg after boot sucked into escalator at Vancouver airport

A Calgary woman is reminding parents of the dangers of escalators after her toddler’s foot was stuck in one and he broke his leg

Moose creates uber Canadian Olympic moment

A Calgary man shares a truly Canadian moment on Twitter of a Moose enjoying the Olympics

B.C. drunk driver unknowingly drags snowmobiles along highway

North District RCMP stopped a driver Sunday near Prince George whose two sleds had fallen off a flat deck trailer and were being dragged along behind his truck.

Canada reacts to Cassie Sharpe’s Olympic gold

From Prime Minister Trudeau to Ryan Reynolds, congratulations abound

Most Read