With their World Cup bid due in less than five months, it’s getting to be crunch time for CONCACAF’s United Bid Committee.
Only 142 days remain before the committee representing the United States, Canada and Mexico’s joint World Cup bid must submit a proposal to FIFA for the hosting rights to the 2026 World Cup. There is still plenty of work to be done before the March 16 deadline, including organizing all aspects of the bid that currently has 32 potential host cities.
“You will certainly see over the course of the next months more outreach here within the US,” said United Bid Committee executive director John Kristick on a conference call on Tuesday. “Our cities are very eager to be promoting within their constituent groups the benefits of hosting and just showing their support, and we are working with them very closely.
“In fact, a few weeks from now, just prior to the American Thanksgiving holiday, we will have an information session in Houston where we will bring all the cities in the bid process together for a series of meetings to exchange ideas on the promotion of the bid, to talk more about some of the hosting requirements. That will happen on the week of Nov. 13.”
After that date and following the submission of the formalized bid in March, the United Bid Committee is expecting FIFA to send representatives to North America to assess the three countries and address any questions the sport’s governing body might have.
The United Bid Committee has not been given a specific date as to when that might be, but nonetheless plans to begin lobbying FIFA voters between March 16 and decision day in June.
“At that time, you would see more of a natural shift where there would then be, based on the FIFA rules that are set out, more external outreach,” said Kristick.
As for whether anything will change if bid chairman Sunil Gulati does not return for another term as US Soccer president, Kristick said the status quo would remain. Gulati, who has come under scrutiny since the US national team’s World Cup qualifying failure earlier this month, has not yet declared whether he will run for the presidency once more when elections are held in February.
Morocco is the only other country bidding for the 2026 World Cup, which will be the first World Cup to expand to 48 teams.
“Every day I wake up and I look at the calendar between now and March 16, and I have 142 days to work with my colleagues in Canada and Mexico to meet the requirements that FIFA puts forward. That’s really where we’re focused on,” said Kristick. “That being said, Sunil is a wonderful supporter, he’s chairman of the bid committee, he’s done a tremendous amount over the course of his career to support the game’s development, and we welcome the support that he continues to give us on the bid. What happens beyond that is really in the hands of the process that’s in governance of US Soccer.
“[If he isn’t elected again] nothing changes for the task that we have at hand, which is to pull together our bid to meet all the requirements that FIFA stipulates. From that standpoint, nothing changes.”