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FIFA opens door to CONCACAF bid for 2026 World Cup

The World Cup could be set for a return to North America in 2026 after FIFA decided bids from European and Asian countries will be “ineligible” to host the tournament.

The United States hosted their first – and only – finals in 1994, and since then football has gone from strength to strength in the country.

And following the convening of the FIFA Council in Zurich this week, the chances of the country hosting again were given a significant boost.

As part of a number of decisions made by FIFA, it was announced that the 2026 tournament will not be open for nations from confederations hosting the next two finals in Russia and Qatar.

So, with Europe and Asia out of the running, the opportunity for CONCACAF nations increases – with US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati not ruling out co-hosting with Mexico and Canada.

“That [decision] has changed the landscape [of the 2026 contest] a little bit,” said Gulati. “The answer is ‘sure’ [we would be interested in hosting], it would be silly to saying anything but that.

“We’ve just gotten the first sets of rules, so we will start to look at it, we’ll get more rules in January. 

“We have a great relationship with Canada and Mexico. We also have a country with 320 million people that has hosted a World Cup and with a lot of terrific stadiums and great infrastructure.”

The number of nations that will compete at the 2026 finals remains unclear, though, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino keen to raise it from the current level of 32.

A decision on the size of future tournaments will be decided in January, when the council meet again.

“I believe in expansion,” he said. “I believe in more teams and more countries being involved in the World Cup because I think this is the biggest boost we can give to football development. 

“There is nothing better for a country to qualify, and for several countries to hope to qualify, in order to boost the football movement. 

“I’m advocating certainly an expansion. What it would be? 40 or 48? I’m very open.”

Fri 14 Oct, 2016
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