FIFA's executive committee announced Friday that it will decide the host of the 2026 World Cup -- the next tournament for which the USA is eligible to bid to host -- in 2017. FIFA secretary
general Jerome Valcke
has promised transparency “from the first minute of the process" after the scandal-ridden 2018 and 2022 bid processes, but it
remains to be seen just what the rules will be -- most critically, who can or can't bid.
FIFA's executive committee will vote at its next meeting on the rules for the bidding process.
Changing the rules for the bidding process is nothing new. FIFA had a rotation system in place to award the tournament among nations from its different confederation, but that was dropped
before Concacaf got its next turn since the USA last hosted in 1994.
More recently, nations from the last two confederations that have hosted the World Cup have been barred from hosting
the next tournament. If that was in place, nations from Europe (Russia 2018) and Asia (Qatar 2022) would be ineligible for the 2026 bid. That would make nations from Concacaf and Africa the leading
The one thing we know about the 2026 World Cup bid process that will be different is that it will decided by FIFA's 209 member associations, not the members of the executive
committee. In 2010, Qatar beat out the USA, 14-8, in the final round of voting. Two executive committee members were suspended shortly before voting in Zurich.
The executive committee's
role will likely be to approve a short list of qualified candidates. If such a process had been in place before the 2010 vote, Qatar might have been excluded because of concerns about the heat. Since
the vote, FIFA has decided to switch the 2022 finals from summer to the late fall.
What this change does mean is that balance of power shifts dramatically. Europe had one-third of the
vote in 2010 -- eight of 24 members. South America -- which went with Qatar -- had three of the 24 votes in 2010. Now South America comprises just 10 of the 209 votes.
voting change increases the influence of African and Asian members, who comprise 101 of the 209 current members. If you don't understand their importance, just look at where FIFA president Sepp Blatter
has been concentrating on garnering votes for his reelection campaign. He's all but a shoo-in because of his work doubling down on political ties in
Africa and Asia.
Barring Asian countries from hosting back-to-back tournaments will be critical if the USA wants to prevail this time. China (and to a lesser extent Australia) would be
the USA's biggest rivals in a open contest.