FIFA blocks Europe from hosting 2026 WCup, lifting US hopes

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ZURICH (AP) North America became a stronger favorite to host an expanded 2026 World Cup after FIFA all but barred European bidders.

[ MORE: 40 or 48 teams a strong possibility for 2026 World Cup ]

FIFA says its ruling council agreed UEFA and Asian confederation members should not bid because Russia hosts the 2018 World Cup and Qatar in 2022.

Europe would be on standby if “none of the received bids fulfil the strict technical and financial requirements.”

That’s unlikely if the United States bids as expected, either alone or jointly with Canada and Mexico.

FIFA Council member Sunil Gulati, the U.S. Soccer Federation president, says the decision “changed the landscape” of the 2026 contest.

FIFA favors co-hosting among regional neighbors, and a three-way bid could be popular if the tournament grows to 40 or 48 teams.

FIFA set the expansion decision for Jan. 9.