Bidding for 2026 World Cup delayed amid scrutiny over 2018, 2022 tournaments

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The bidding process for the 2026 World Cup, which the United States is heavily favored to win, has been delayed as the fallout continues at FIFA.

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Following investigations being launched by the Swiss police into alleged corruption during the 2018 and 2022 World Cups bidding process, FIFA has announced that the vote for the 2026 World Cup will not go ahead as planned in Kuala Lumpur in May 2017.

The U.S. is considered to be the overwhelming favorites to host the World Cup tournament for just the second-time in its history in 2026, but Canada, Mexico, Colombia and some European countries have also emerged as contenders.

Amid an FBI investigation into long-term corruption and bribery at FIFA, which has now seen 18 individuals indicted following the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch issuing the charges on May 27, the current general secretary of FIFA, Jerome Valcke, has decided to delay the bidding process for the time being and said it would be “nonsense” to think about the 2026 World Cup process right now.

“We have been working on a level of requests for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and there was a decision to allocate this World Cup in 2017 and to start the bidding process sooner,” Valcke explained. “Due to the situation I think it is a nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being and we will postpone this bidding process for the time being.”

Valcke was speaking at a press conference in Russia, as the 2018 hosts continue with their plans to welcome the world in less than three years time. The under-fire general secretary also claimed his innocence after it was claimed he was involved in an alleged $10 million bribe from South Africa to FIFA officials for votes to host the 2010 World Cup.

Although both Russia and Qatar have denied any wrongdoing in their bidding process which saw them win the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, reports have suggested that the FBI is now also investigating the process which occurred back in 2010. A separate investigation by FIFA’s own ethics committee cleared Russia and Qatar in November 2014 but American lawyer Michael Garcia, who ran that investigation, resigned after it was revealed his entire report wouldn’t be released and instead FIFA issues its own 40-page report on Garcia’s findings.

This news of trying to sort out the 2018 and 2022 World Cups bids first will excite many who believe, for whatever reasons, that both Russia and Qatar where involved in corruption.