[WORLD CUP 2026]Three years after the USA lost out to Qatar in the bid for the 2022 World Cup, the wisdom of the decision by the FIFA executive committee is still being debated. U.S. Soccer presidentSunil Gulati, who headed the U.S. bid committee, says a rethink of how FIFA conducts its bidding process will be necessary before the USA will bid for the 2026 World Cup.
Qatar blew away the USA and three other bidders for the 2022 World Cup with its multi-million bid and lobbying effort backed by its royal family that emphasized strong economic ties in the countries of many executive committee members.
"The rules, the procedures, need to be very different than they are now," Gulati said at the Leaders in Football in London. "It's a unique situation that the Olympics and the World Cup have become so important to countries that nation states are now essentially bidding, it's no longer bid committees."
Gulati said the USA was at a disadvantage because the World Cup simply isn't an affair of state in the USA.
"We are not going to conduct a foreign policy based on hosting a World Cup," he said. "It's just never going to be important."
Qatar won despite a technical report submitted by FIFA's inspection committee that labeled Qatar's bid as a high risk because of the summer heat. After the fact, the selection of Russia for the 2018 World Cup and Qatar for 2022 was justified as part of FIFA's move to take the tournament to new parts of the world.
"If the critical issue is taking it to new lands, then tell us in advance because we won't bother," said Gulati. "The rules need to be clearer and tighter. And the process needs to be better. If you are stepping on to a field of play, you know what the rules are. We'd want more clarity on the bidding and the whole process. For instance, is there going to be a system of rotation, or not? This needs to be established well enough in advance so people know. Also, my personal view is that it should also be a public vote. And the technical report should matter in some concrete way. Otherwise, it's an unnecessary expenditure on funds and time."