The joint 2026 World Cup bid that will see the USA, Canada and Mexico join forces in a quest to host a 48-team FIFA World Cup in North America could potentially face competition in the coming months.
Although the three CONCACAF nations were hopeful that FIFA would approve a proposal for their bid to vie uncontested for the 2026 tournament hosting rights, the world governing body announced on Tuesday that it is set to allow three months for other potential bids ahead of an August 11, 2017 deadline. Previous reports indicated that Morocco could be interested in contending for the tournament.
"For us, the most important thing was having an expedited process rather than a two or three year process and the council agreed with that," U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, who sits on the FIFA Council, told the Associated Press. "We are happy to have competition because we are fully confident in the bid we can put together and the sort of World Cup we can put on."
The FIFA Council on Tuesday put forth the following proposal to be voted on by the 67th FIFA Congress on Thursday in the city of Manama, Bahrain:
"The FIFA administration shall establish a bidding procedure inviting initially only the member associations of CAF [Africa], CONCACAF [North America, Central America and the Caribbean], CONMEBOL [South America] and the OFC [Oceania] as candidates to submit to FIFA bids to host the final competition of the 2026 FIFA World Cup by 11 August 2017. The 68th FIFA Congress [June 12-13, 2018 in Moscow] will decide on the selection of the candidate host associations."
Nations in Europe and Asia are not initially eligible to submit a bid given that those regions will host the upcoming World Cups in 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar). However, if the June 2018 FIFA Congress is not satisfied with the bids submitted, they could decide to open bidding to all countries, regardless of region.
In another development, the FIFA Council on Tuesday also confirmed the breakdown of the slots for the 2026 World Cup, the first edition to be comprised of 48 teams:
- Africa (CAF): 9 slots
- Asia (AFC): 8 slots
- Europe (UEFA): 16 slots
- North America, Central America & Caribbean (CONCACAF): 6 slots
- Oceania (OFC): 1 slot ·
- South America (CONMEBOL): 6 slots
The final two slots would be determined via a six-team intercontinental playoff tournament in November 2025.
A host country would automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup, and its slot would be taken from its confederation's quota. However, if there are multiple host nations, as would be the case if the USA, Canada and Mexico joint bid won hosting rights, the number that qualify automatically would be decided by the FIFA Council.