SBD/May 10, 2017/Events and Attractions

FIFA Council Allows Three More Months For More World Cup Bids To Join U.S.-Led Effort

The FIFA Council yesterday decided that rivals to the joint North American World Cup bid for '26 will be "given three more months to present alternatives," according to Sam Borden of ESPN FC. Sources said that some members of the council "expressed concern that the exclusivity element" of the North American proposal was "unreasonable, particularly given the corruption scandals surrounding bids in the past." A closed-off process was "poor optics as FIFA tries to repair its image." However, the council "agreed to the U.S. bid's proposed fast-track timetable that would award the bid before" the '18 World Cup in Russia instead of '20. as originally planned. U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said, "We got what we wanted most. An open process is a good thing and we're very confident that our bid will be a high quality one." Borden noted there "aren't many possible opponents for the U.S," joined in their bid by Mexico and Canada. Only countries from Oceania, Africa and South America "could be possible competitors" and Oceania and South America have "already endorsed the North American bid" (ESPNFC.us, 5/9). In DC, Steven Goff writes no other "substantial bids are likely to enter the race." Africa’s "only hope, it appears, is Morocco, which would be hard-pressed to handle such a large event." The U.S. would "host 60 matches, and Mexico and Canada 10 apiece." Every match from the quarterfinals onward would "take place at U.S. venues." If the North American bid package "fails to meet standards and requirements outlined by FIFA, every confederation would have an opportunity to submit a bid" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/10). 

QUESTION OF ETHICS
: In N.Y., Andrew Das notes FIFA has "moved to replace the leadership of its ethics committee, in effect dismissing the judge and the prosecutor whose investigations resulted in the suspensions" of former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, former UEFA President Michel Platini and other top officials. In a statement "released on the eve of its annual congress in Manama, Bahrain, FIFA announced that it would put forward replacements to lead its two-chamber ethics committee." The departing judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert, and the prosecutor, Cornel Borbely, "decried the decision, saying that they were eager to continue their work" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/10). This comes as FIFA has been trying to land new sponsors after losing several due to the organization's corruption scandal.
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