KEIR RADNEDGE in MARRAKECH: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has leaped to the defence of the 2026 World Cup bid process as the world federation published the bid books submitted by both contenders Morocco and United (United States/Canada/Mexico).
FIFA Congress is scheduled to stage a decisive, open vote in Moscow on June 13 but if both bids are to make it that far they must pass muster with a five-man evaluation taskforce.
Supporters of the Moroccan bid from within the African confederation CAF have questioned the credibility of the taskforce after suggestions that its modus operandi has changed along the way.
The taskforce will provide marks on five major factors and could thus rule out any one bid even before it comes before FIFA Council for review on the eve of congress.
Infantino, elected by the world body in 2016 after a decade at European federation UEFA, said: “I have been dealing with the evaluation of bids for over 20 years, in several different capacities, and I challenge anyone to point out an organisation that conducts a bidding process as fair, objective and transparent as the one that FIFA is carrying out for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”
His words will be widely weighed considering the scandal which surrounded the last bidding procedure which concluded, in 2010, with the contentious awards of the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
Infantino has always insisted that, after that fiasco which wrecked FIFA’s reputation, the 2026 bidding process should be “bullet proof.”
He added: “FIFA has been heavily criticised for how it conducted the selection of hosts in the past; it was our obligation to learn from this and leave no room for any doubt or subjectivity.
“This is why the rules of this process have been clear and objective from the beginning, and they include the highest standards in terms of ethical conduct, participation and commitment to sustainability and human rights.
“In this context, the role of the 2026 bid evaluation taskforce and the principle of ensuring that the bidder(s) retained meet the eligibility criteria to host the biggest single-sport event in the world is a natural consequence of the enhanced process. These are necessary steps to ensure that we never go back to the ‘old ways’.”
The key documents:
Joint submission by United 2026:
Submission by the Moroccan Football Association: