FIFA has agreed to fast-track the bid process for the 2026 World Cup, setting the stage for the tournament host to be announced in 2018. That decision makes the United States, Mexico and Canada's joint bid, which was already the favorite, look like near certainties to host the World Cup.
Under the new timeline, countries will have until August 11 to submit their bids to FIFA. Then they will have to show that they can meet technical requirements by March, before the tournament is awarded later in the year.
The reason that this is such a boon to the North American bid is that FIFA has already limiting bidding on the tournament to countries from the Americas and Africa. Meanwhile, the South American confederation has already throw its support for the 2026 host behind the North American bid, so a bid from Africa is really the only challenger left.
Now, with the expedited timeline, an African bidder -- no African country has said they will bid yet -- will need to put together a bid in the next three months and then show they can meet all technical requirements in the seven months after that. It's an extraordinarily tall taskunder any circumstances, but with a strong North American bid that has most all of its infrastructure built as the competitor, it looks nearly impossible. And on top of all that, because the 2026 World Cup has been expanded to 48 teams, any bidder will need more stadiums, infrastructure and organization than ever before.
This is still bidding to host a major international tournament and a lot can change so the U.S., Mexico and Canada joint bid isn't guaranteed to host the 2026 World Cup by any means. But they have been favorites ever since they announced that they were joining together to bid, and that there is now an expedited timeline, making it tougher for anyone to put together a strong competing bid, just makes it all the more likely.