FIFA pledges 'transparent' 2026 World Cup bid

LAUSANNE: FIFA has promised to deliver a "transparent" bidding process for the 2026 World Cup after the controversy surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar.

In a column to appear on Friday in the FIFA magazine, president Gianni Infantino insists that world football's governing body has "radically enhanced the mechanisms for selecting the location of our showpiece event".

"The process is as objective and transparent as it can get," he adds, with aspects such as the bid book content, candidature evaluation reports, votes by each member of the FIFA council, and the final decision of the FIFA congress to be closely monitored.

"Every step of the bidding process will be open to public examination - and, for the first time, the process will be scrutinised by an independent audit company," says Infantino.

The successful bid will have to "formally commit to conducting their activities based on sustainable event management principles and to respecting international human rights and labour standards" laid out by the United Nations.

The hosting decision for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments prompted investigations that exposed widespread graft within the global game in 2015 and led to the downfall of figures such as disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The nomination process for the 2026 World Cup was suspended for almost a year following the corruption scandal before it was restarted in May 2016.

A joint United States-Mexico-Canada bid is the favourite to host the 2026 tournament, with only one other country, Morocco, entering the bidding race.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first to feature 48 nations with the competition set to expand from its current 32-team format.

A final decision on who will host the event is expected to take place in May 2020. — AFP