At the 68th FIFA Congress Wednesday in Moscow, FIFA awarded the joint bid of the United States, Canada, and Mexico (the so-called United bid) the right to host the 2026 World Cup.
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) June 13, 2018
The tournament will be the first to feature 48 teams in 16 groups of three. Of the 80 games to be played, 60 will occur in the United States, with Canada and Mexico each hosting ten.
As football fans, though, there is cause for excitement regardless of our home countries. The 2026 World Cup will bring a breath of fresh air into the often sullied smog of world football. The selection of the North American bid marks a new dawn of transparency in world football.
Under the old system, which chose Russia and Qatar as hosts most recently, a FIFA executive committee held a private vote to select which bid would be awarded the right to host. Unsurprisingly, this method was ripe for bribery and backroom deals. In May 2015, the suspicions were confirmed when United States federal prosecutors charged over a dozen FIFA executives with corruption (ESPN released a 2016 piece explaining the case in great detail). Amidst extensive claims of bribery, Qatar is still in line to host the World Cup in four years.
Unlike the shady nature of Qatar’s selection, a public vote of each FIFA member nation selected the United bid. No closed-door meetings chose the 2026 host.
Beyond the manner of selection, the human rights violations that have plagued both Russia and Qatar’s preparation will be missing from the United bid. A report from the Human Rights Watch released last summer summer detailed exploitation of workers in Russia, culminating with Building and Wood Workers’ International claiming 17 workers died during construction. Qatar’s violations may be even worse. The Independent has detailed the slave-like treatment of workers in Qatar here. Some reports claim hundreds of workers die each year as Qatar continues its preparations. Even the excitement of the World Cup does not overshadow these injustices.
Looking forward to 2026, though, the cause of these tragedies, stadium construction, will be absent. All of the 23 potential host-cities currently have stadiums that meet FIFA standards to host World Cup games.
So, as the world watches this summer’s edition of the World Cup, smile football fans, FIFA finally made the right choice.
Should Qatar keep the 2022 World Cup? Is the selection of the United bid a step in the right direction for FIFA? Let us know by commenting below, or tweeting us @AllOutFootball_ with the hashtag #AOF.