Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

U.S. hopes for hosting soccer's World Cup in 2026 get a boost from FIFA

The governing council of soccer's world governing body, FIFA, voted Friday to bar countries in Europe and Asia, which will host the next two World Cups, from bidding to host the tournament in 2026. The decision significantly increases the chances that the event will take place in the United States, either as the sole bidder or in partnership with neighbors Mexico or Canada.

The United States has hosted one World Cup, in 1994, a 24-team tournament that, despite the event's expansion to include more teams and more games in later years, still holds the World Cup attendance record. Games were played in nine cities across the country, including Orlando at the stadium then known as the Citrus Bowl.

The change to FIFA's bidding process — a proposal to make the host confederations of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups ineligible to bid for the 2026 event — was among several approved Friday in a meeting of the FIFA council in Zurich.

Russia will host the next tournament in Europe in two years, and Qatar will carry Asia's flag in 2022, so their confederations, UEFA and the Asian Football Confederation, are already out of the bidding for 2026. That is bad news for England, which last hosted in 1966 and was bitterly disappointed to lose out to Russia for 2018, and for China, which is eager to host its first World Cup.

But it was great news for CONCACAF, which governs the game in North and Central America and the Caribbean. In an interview after the FIFA council's session, the president of U.S. Soccer, Sunil Gulati, feigned surprise when he was asked whether the decision was good news for his confederation.

"Oh, I hadn't noticed that," he said with a devilish grin. "Perhaps."

The World Cup could look very different in 2026. Led by its new president, Gianni Infantino, FIFA is considering expanding the tournament to 40 teams, or even 48, for 2026, up from the current 32. Infantino has pressed the expansion plan as a way to allow more countries to take part in soccer's biggest event, but the plan has drawn criticism inside the game. FIFA said this week that a vote on expansion would take place in January.

The infrastructure required for an expanded event — stadiums, hotels, transportation systems — would limit the field of host countries considerably. Brazil was stretched to its financial and organizational limit by hosting the 2014 World Cup, and a 48-team tournament would be an enormous challenge for any country in FIFA's two other confederations, Africa and Oceania.

Still, FIFA left open a door for multiple-country bids, voting to consider co-hosting proposals "on a case-by-case basis." UEFA has had co-hosts for its continental championship several times, and it will host the 2020 European Championship under an even wider format, with 13 cities in 13 countries taking part.

But a joint bid among any or all three CONCACAF countries would have to overcome significant logistical and security concerns that did not exist the last time the event was held in North America. Mexico has hosted the World Cup twice, in 1970 and 1986. Canada hosted last year's Women's World Cup, a far smaller tournament than the men's version.

The vote on the 2026 World Cup host had been scheduled for May 2017, but the corruption scandal that rocked FIFA last year forced a recalculation. In May of this year, FIFA announced that a new four-phase plan for the process would culminate in a decision in 2020.

U.S. hopes for hosting soccer's World Cup in 2026 get a boost from FIFA 10/15/16 [Last modified: Saturday, October 15, 2016 1:06am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season

    College

    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  2. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pittsburgh stadium

    Blogs

    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32 (left), was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with boss Larry McCabe when he saw three men …

  3. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    Corey Dickerson is doing everything he can to garner All-Star votes heading into tonight's voting cutoff, going into play Wednesday leading the AL with 101 hits and rapping two more his first two times up, and scoring two more runs.

  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company

    College

    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.