Where will the 2026 World Cup be held?
After the controversies surrounding the most recent votes to host the World Cup, FIFA must go through it all again in May 2020 to decide where the 2026 tournament will be staged. It seems a long way off, but some nations have already put together formal bids.
FIFA had initially planned to select a host in May this year when its congress met in Kuala Lumpur, with the bidding process expected to start two years earlier. After reports of corruption coming to the surface, however, the procedure was delayed due to the distrust and uncertainty surrounding football’s governing body.
The corruption allegations resulted in FIFA President Sepp Blatter leaving his post, along with many other of the association’s leading members. Gianni Infantino replaced Blatter at the helm. The change seems to have steadied the ship thus far, meaning the host selection for the 2026 World Cup can begin.
FIFA rules state that neither UEFA or AFC can stage the tournament as Russia and Qatar will host the next two World Cups. Therefore, the 2026 hosts will come from either South America, North America, Africa or Oceania.
After Japan/South Korea 2002, FIFA backtracked on its rule that stated the World Cup can’t be hosted by more than one country. The addition of 16 extra teams to the tournament was a factor. With the total number increasing to 48, a bigger area is needed to met demands.
Two official bids have already been made to stage in 2026. They come from North America and Africa. Having submitted a joint-bid, the United States, Canada and Mexico is the obvious choice due to the size of the three countries and their suitable stadia. The USA last hosted the World Cup in 1994, with Mexico holding the competition eight years prior.
The other confirmed bid comes from Morocco, a nation which has staged the FIFA Club World Cup two times previously. It was due to host the 2015 African Cup of Nations but had to withdraw due to the Ebola virus epidemic which gripped Africa at the time. This isn’t the first time Morocco has attempted to host the World Cup, losing out on four occasions in the past.
Other nations were interested in hosting the finals in 2026. They pulled out for different reasons, however. New Zealand needed Australia's backing, but the Aussies weren’t too keen on co-hosting the tournament. Colombia and Chile, meanwhile, couldn’t manage to cooperate with other South American nations, which saw both bids fall through. Despite unsuccessful attempts, the three countries still have a chance to get back into the race as the bid declaration deadline isn’t until January 2019.
England won’t bid for the competition this time around, though. Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup means UEFA nations aren't eligible eight years later.
Unless Sepp Blatter returns to power, it looks like the World Cup is heading to North America in 2026.