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

B.C. man convicted in fatal boat crash awaiting appeal date

Leon Reinbrecht maintains rights breached by delays

JoeAnna’s House fundraising campaign reaches $4.5 million

Offering ‘home away from home’ for families of KGH patients

Food truck options to expand in Salmon Arm

City council votes in new food truck regulations

New commercial development coming to council

Liquor outlet and 60-seat restaurant among uses proposed by applicant

Kelowna West byelection called for Feb. 14

Four candidate race to replace departed former B.C. premier Christy Clark

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

KIJHL prospects shine in showcase game

Top players for Kootenay and Okanagan conferences put best skate forward.

Challenge issued to ‘Read for 15’

Regional district libraries to compete by asking patrons to read for 15 minutes on Jan. 26 and 27.

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Public asked to report bat sightings

White nose syndrome leads to bats flying in winter or death.

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

Island Health: No need for alarm in wake of Victoria needle-prick incidents

Three incidents in a week prompts meeting between health authority, city service providers

Most Read