FIFA must make the 2026 World Cup bidding process “absolutely bullet-proof” because the entire organisation’s credibility is at stake, new president Gianni Infantino said on Friday.
Infantino, elected Fifa boss last week, hopes to start 2026 bidding within three months after it was delayed by the wide-reaching corruption scandal that rocked the governing body last year.
“We have to get the 2026 bidding process absolutely right,” Infantino told the BBC.
“It’s certainly the commitment that I want to give; that I will do everything I can to make sure that this happens because I think that the credibility of FIFA is, as well, at stake here.
“We need to make sure that we do everything we possibly can, not only to prevent strange things to happen around bidding processes but also to prevent the perception that strange things could happen.
“We need to make sure that bidding process that we put in place is absolutely bullet-proof.”
Every World Cup bidding process since 1998 has been the subject of allegations of corruption and bribery.
The awarding of the 2018 and 2022 finals, to Russia and Qatar respectively, is being probed by Swiss authorities.
On Friday, a report into the bid for the 2006 World Cup awarded to Germany found no evidence of vote-rigging but was unable to explain a $10 million payment by the country’s bid chief Franz Beckenbauer to a company owned by Mohammed Bin Hammam.
Qatari Bin Hammam, a former president of the Asian Football Confederation, was banned from all soccer-related activity for life in Dec. 2012 for integrity issues.
Infantino reiterated his position that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups needed to go ahead, regardless of investigations.
“I am a pragmatic person,” he said. “FIFA needs to deliver two World Cups, one in two years and one in six years, for decisions which have been taken six years ago.
“There has been a lot of speculation and a lot of allegations but not one single fact, in six years.
“At some stage we have to say ‘let’s focus on working’. I want to work and help Russia and Qatar host the best World Cups ever, as we always say.”
Mexico wants to host the 2026 World Cup
Mexico reiterated Friday its wish to host the 2026 World Cup and try to become the first country to organize the tournament three times, said Mexican Soccer Federation president Decio De Maria.
Mexico, in 1970 and 1986, is one of five countries to host the event twice. Italy (1934 and 1990), France (1938 and 1998), Brazil (1950 and 2014) and Germany (1974 and 2006) are the others.
We know that a World Cup means beyond what’s a stake on the field,” De Maria said at a press conference. “Being the host of the biggest party in the world is an honor and it means a lot for the country. In due time, Mexico will hold the hand high and follow up with the FIFA procedures to hold the tournament.”
Russia will host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the next in 2022.
This is not the first time that the Mexicans made public their wish to host the World Cup. A couple of years ago, former soccer federation president Justino Compean also said it.
“This country deserves a third World Cup, we know that the race will be tough. Canada and the United States will probably want to host it as well,” Compean said in December 2014. “We think we can organize it, it depends on new stadiums and government support.”
Compean resigned last August and De Maria was appointed as his successor.
The Mexican teams have been busy in the last few years investing In new stadiums. Santos created the TSM in 2009, Chivas constructed the Omnilfe in 2010 and Monterrey built the BBVA stadium last year. Tigres, last year’s Copa Libertadores runner-up, will build a new one by 2018.
Besides, Puebla’s Cuauhtemoc stadium was remodeled last year with a $40 million investment. Currently, the legendary Azteca stadium is being adapted to celebrate its 60th anniversary and to host NFL games in the next few years.
“It means a big commitment but I think that most Mexicans will feel very proud to organize a third World Cup,” said De Maria. “As soon as the process begins within FIFA, Mexico will be present.”