FIFA World Cup trophy

The plan to accelerate the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup was approved at the FIFA Congress in Bahrain on Thursday, setting the wheels in motion for the US, Canada and Mexico to potentially jointly be awarded the tournament next June.


The plan was approved by 93 percent of the 209 voting members at the Congress. Under the plan, any other nations interested in bidding for the 2026 tournament must express their interest by Aug. 11. Proposed bids would then have to fulfill FIFA’s technical specifications for hosting the tournament by March 2018.


The original bidding process was scheduled to run until 2020. 


The initial plan asked for FIFA to grant the North American bid an exclusive window to meet the technical specifications, but the governing body opened it up for any other nations interested in bidding.


FIFA’s rotation system make any nation from the European and Asian confederations ineligible to bid for the 2026 World Cup, leaving only countries from the Africa, Oceania and South America – whose confederation has already thrown their support behind the US, Canada and Mexico bid – able to bid for the tournament. Given the tight timeline and logistical limitations in hosting a 48-team World Cup for countries in Africa and Oceania, the joint North American bid is the heavy favorite to be awarded the 2026 World Cup at the FIFA Congress in Moscow next June.


If selected, the US, Canada and Mexico’s bid would see 60 of 80 World Cup games hosted in the US and 10 each held in Canada and Mexico. The 2026 World Cup will be the first time the tournament will include an expanded field of 48 countries, up from the 32 nations that currently participate in the tournament. 


The original bidding process was scheduled to run until 2020.