FIFA unveiled the timetable of its delayed bidding process for the 2026 World Cup on Tuesday (10 May), with president Gianni Infantino’s plans for a 40-team tournament to be decided upon by October and a final decision on the hosts to be made in May 2020.
Football’s world governing body said it would consider allowing joint bids and review a rule which bans the same continent from hosting two successive World Cups.
This currently prevents China, whose Wanda Group is a major FIFA sponsor, from bidding for the 2026 tournament.
The decisions were among the first passed by the new-look FIFA Council, which was holding its maiden meeting since it replaced the old executive committee under reforms passed in February.
The Council, which has a strategic role, ruled that bidding nations would have to meet requirements on human rights, sustainable event management and environmental protection. Bidders who did not meet “technical requirements” would be excluded, it said.
Infantino was elected as FIFA president in February when one of his main promises was to increase the number of teams in the finals from 32 to 40, a proposal which is strongly opposed by Europe’s biggest clubs.
FIFA said that decisions were expected by October on the number of teams, the format for the tournament, the “eligibility of (continental) confederations to bid” and whether to allow joint bids.
At present, the same continent cannot host two successive World Cups following a decision by the executive committee in May last year.
Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup, meaning that other Asian countries would have to wait until 2030.
Then, however, an Asian country could face opposition from a joint bid by Argentina and Uruguay, aimed to celebrate the centenary of the competition, which was first held in Uruguay in 1930.
Joint bids were banned in 2011 but Infantino has said he wants to encourage them, possibly spreading the tournament around several countries in a region.