US, Canada and Mexico set to submit joint bid to host 2026 World Cup
A joint bid from the US, Canada and Mexico to host the enlarged 2026 World Cup is expected to be finalised this year for submission to Fifa, according to Victor Montagliani, the president of the region’s Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf). Speaking to the Guardian before Saturday’s annual Concacaf congress on the Caribbean island of Aruba, Montagliani contrasted the prospect of the countries’ cooperating on a World Cup with the division represented by the wall along the border with Mexico planned by Donald Trump.
“Canada, the US and Mexico are aiming for a joint bid, the idea has been around for a while, discussions are continuing and it is a very exciting proposition if it comes to fruition,” Montagliani said. “We have had nothing but positive remarks about it and it is a very strong sign of what football can do to bring countries together.”
Asked if he was referring to Trump’s belligerent rhetoric about building a wall, Montagliani, a Canadian insurance executive elected as the Concacaf president last May, said football has to “rise above” all kinds of political regimes which many people dislike. “It behoves football and leaders of football to deal with it and rise above it,” he said.
Although each country individually would have the infrastructure to host the World Cup alone, Montagliani said, a joint bid would be “a fit” with the new 48-country, 80-game format of the 2026 tournament. A final decision is likely to be taken “some time this year”.
The development of the Concacaf bid, together with running a successful Gold Cup tournament this summer, is a key element in Montagliani’s campaign as its new president to refocus on football itself, following the arrests, criminal indictments and revelations of huge corruption at the confederation under his predecessors.
“It is still shocking when you think of the depth and breadth of the corruption; it was unbelievable,” Montagliani said. “You are in a very privileged position to work in football, 99% of people would give their right arm to be in that position; it’s an honour, and to abuse it is unforgivable.”
Concacaf instituted governance reforms in July 2015 principally aimed at its internal constitution, and auditing and protection against the payment of bribes and kickbacks when TV, sponsorship and commercial rights are sold, which were rife under three previous presidents. In August a new chief legal and compliance officer was appointed with responsibility for these procedures, Guilherme (Bill) Carvalho, formerly the associate general counsel for Yahoo in the Americas.
“We have to rebuild the trust of the public and that takes time,” Montagliani said. “We do not have council members doling out Goal [Fifa development] projects, media rights or dealing with sponsors; there is a clear process now and, although no method is foolproof, I have a fairly high comfort level that we have an integrity process in place.”
Chuck Blazer, the Concacaf general secretary working alongside Warner for 21 years, pleaded guilty to multiple fraud, bribery and tax evasion crimes in the US, and has been an informer in the continuing US Department of Justice criminal investigations. Webb, elected on the promise of reform and integrity following the Warner and Blazer scandals, was himself arrested in Zurich in May 2015 andpleaded guilty last year to taking multimillion dollar bribes from TV contracts as soon as he became the president. Montagliani described Webb as a man well-liked in football and his admitted corruption as “a horrendous shock”.
Alfredo Hawit, a Honduran lawyer and former professional footballer who was interim Concacaf president after Warner’s demise, then became president again following Webb’s arrest, was then indicted and pleaded guilty himself last year to trousering bribes on TV deals.
“I couldn’t imagine such a crisis occurring in a company and the company surviving,” Montagliani said. “But you should never waste a good crisis. Football has survived because of fans and players, and now we have an opportunity to restore our image, and bring the game back to them.”
Montagliani, a supporter and ally of Infantino’s, appointed the chair of Fifa’s new football stakeholder committee said that Concacaf is party to Fifa’s legal claim for recovery of money defrauded by its former officials._ The Guardian
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