SBD/May 9, 2017/Events and Attractions

Sources: U.S.-Led Bid For North American '26 World Cup Well Supported By FIFA

Despite plans to share the event, there is a possibility the U.S. emerges as the solo host
The U.S.-led bid to bring the '26 FIFA World Cup to North America "looks to be well on track for success," with Thursday's vote by the FIFA Congress "expected to go strongly in the bid's favor," according to sources cited by Sam Borden of ESPN FC. Barring a last-minute change, support for the bid's proposal to "fast-track the awarding of the World Cup rights appears broad." With the '18 World Cup in Russia and the '22 event in Qatar, FIFA's current rules "prohibit European or Asian countries from bidding" on the '26 tournament. South America's confederation CONMEBOL is "expected to bid" for the '30 event and has "supported the North American bid." That "leaves Africa, where Morocco was said to be entertaining a challenge but has yet to declare anything publicly." Borden noted normally a vote on the '26 bid "would not take place for several years, but given the restrictions on possible competitors, the North American bid has proposed that FIFA's Congress essentially draw up a list of specifications that the bid must meet within a certain time frame, and, if the specifications are met, have the bid simply awarded to North America then and there." If Thursday's proposal "does not pass, the traditional (and significantly more elongated) bidding process would be required" (ESPNFC.us, 5/8). REUTERS' Simon Evans noted there is "plenty of confidence" around the three-nation U.S., Canada, Mexico bid. However, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said that she was "keen to ensure the council hears the plan in full before giving its voting guidance to congress" (REUTERS, 5/8).

WHAT IT WOULD LOOK LIKE: The AP noted under plans announced last month, the U.S. 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 '94 -- if its neighbors are "considered unsuitable" by the FIFA Congress in June '18. 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'" (AP, 5/8).

DEJA VU: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes FIFA "just can’t help itself," as anyone still "holding out hope that soccer’s governing body was sincere about wanting to root out corruption was disabused of that notion" with yesterday's FIFA Council elections. FIFA Exec Committee member Moya Dodd, one of FIFA’s "few power brokers with a proven commitment to reform, lost the seat reserved for Asia’s female representative to a woman who needed three tries to name the defending Women’s World Cup champion." It "wasn’t even close, either, with Mahfuza Ahkter Kiron of Bangladesh winning 27 to 17." Univ. of Colorado Sports Governance Center Dir Roger Pielke Jr. said, "There we go again. There’s FIFA. It's good evidence that things haven't changed." Dodd has been "outspoken about both the need for reform and increased roles for women in the sport, something she said goes hand in hand." FIFA was "supposed to be working toward that, what with the six Council spots reserved for women" (USA TODAY, 5/9).
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