World Cup 2026 vote process: complicated, to say the least

For all the attention placed on the release of the bid books of United 2026 (USA, Canada and Mexico) and Morocco, even more important was the release of how FIFA will evaluate the two bids and how FIFA's members will vote on them on June 13 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow.

FIFA bid process:
Scoring system | Voting System

It is a two-step process with a technical task force visiting the bidders in the spring and grading the bids and the FIFA Council (the expanded executive committee) then making its recommendation to the 211-member FIFA Congress for a vote.

But there are scenarios -- Morocco's great fear -- by which one or both of the bids could fail to make the grade or they could be voted down by the FIFA Congress, eliminating them from the 2026 bid campaign and opening it up to bids from other countries. (Asian and European countries have otherwise been excluded from the 2026 process since Russia and Qatar will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively)

FIFA has instituted a complex scoring system to evaluate everything about the bids, from six infrastructure criteria (70 percent) to three commercial criteria (20 percent). Each of the nine criteria will be given a score of 0-5, depending on whether the bid meets FIFA's requirements, how the sub-criteria are weighted and whether each criteria or sub-criteria meets minimum standards (a score of 2.0).

In the examples it sets out for evaluating the bids, FIFA could summarily reject a bid if the average weighted score was less than 2.0 or less than 12 of the host cities attain a minimum score of 2.0, for example, in terms of accommodations, either for the public or for FIFA purposes (teams, staff, VIPs).

The key elements of voting system are:

-- All active FIFA members (211 minus USA, Canada, Mexico and Morocco, plus suspended Guatemala) get one vote;
-- The vote will be public (results released immediately afterwards);
-- The winner will be simple majority (50%+1 of those who voted).

The twist is that there will be three candidates (assuming United 2026 and Morocco both make cut):

-- United 2026 (U.S., Canadian and Mexican federations);
-- Morocco federation; and
-- "none of them."

If "none of them" is the majority winner or matches the combined United 2026-Morocco vote total, United 2026 and Morocco are eliminated. Otherwise, United 2026 and Morocco go to a second round (with "none of them" on the ballot) if neither was the majority winner in the first round.

The Moroccan press has referred to this as FIFA's "Plan B" to undermine Maroc 2026. By adding "none of them," that threat could be used as a vote of no confidence against the Moroccan bid -- considered to only have a chance because of anti-USA politics -- and serve as a sort of nuclear option for FIFA. More practically, "none of them" creates the greater likelihood that United 2026 and Morocco don't win on the first ballot and sets off intense lobbying of members whose votes have been made public ahead of the second ballot.

This "Plan B," though, could just as easily be used to undermine the United 2026 bid. If only United 2026 passes the test of the FIFA evaluators, it must still beat "none of them" to win the bid and potentially would face opposition from (1) those who supported Morocco all along; (2) those who don't like the process and (3) those who would want the bidding opened up for their own gain.

If FIFA's goal was to take the politics out of the process, it might fall short

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2 comments about "World Cup 2026 vote process: complicated, to say the least".
  1. beautiful game, March 27, 2018 at 11:16 a.m.

    FIFA was and remains a "greed cash cow". Corrupt because of the greed. It's recent "rehaul"  post Blatter is nothing more than a mirage.

  2. beautiful game, March 27, 2018 at 11:18 a.m.

    First FIFA criteria is MONEY; it's become a con game.

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