The bidding process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup has been postponed due to allegations of corruption surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively, under-fire FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke announced today.
The host nation of the 2026 tournament was due to be decided at the FIFA Congress in the Malaysian capital in May 2017.
But current investigations by the Swiss authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which have plunged world football’s governing body into turmoil, have caused FIFA to suspend their bid process for the 2026 tournament.
Speaking at a press conference in Russia, Valcke gave no indication of when the 2026 host country would be chosen.
The United States are thought to be interested in staging the 2026 tournament, while bids from Canada, Mexico and Colombia have also been touted.
Both England and Australia, who have bid unsuccessfully for the World Cup in recent years, could also consider entering the race.
The Frenchman remains at the centre of the ongoing scandal for alleged involvement in a $10 million (£6.5 million/€9 million) payment to disgraced former CONCACAF President Jack Warner in exchange for his support for South Africa’s eventually-successful bid to host the 2010 World Cup.
In his first public appearance since the allegations surfaced, Valcke remained defiant despite the recent turbulent events that has further tarnished the reputation of FIFA.
“It was not FIFA’s money, it was a request from official South African authorities and SAFA (South African Football Association)," the Frenchman said.
"As long as it is in line with rules we do it.
“I don’t understand what’s the problem and why I am such a target in this question.
“You have decided that after [FIFA President Sepp] Blatter I am the head to be cut, fine, but don’t say it is because of this.”
Also speaking at the press conference was Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, a keen ally of Blatter and FIFA and a member of the world governing body's Executive Committee, who insisted that his country’s successful bid to host the 2018 World Cup did not break any laws.
The development comes over a week since cBlatter announced he is to step down from his role just days after being re-elected for a fifth term.
Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of Kuwait and current UEFA President Michel Platini are two of the names on the long list of potential replacements for Blatter.
It has been reported that December 16 will be the date of the Extraordinary Congress at which the Swiss’ successor will be appointed and where Blatter’s scandal-hit 17 years in charge will come to an end.
But FIFA have so far failed to confirm this.
“It requires an extraordinary Executive Committee to confirm a date and agenda for the extraordinary elective congress,” a FIFA spokesperson said.
“This extraordinary Executive Committee will convene in July, the precise date to be confirmed this week.
“There are currently various date options for discussion at this extraordinary Executive Committee meeting.”
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