The 2026 World Cup hosts will not be chosen until May 2020, while the finals may feature 40 finalists for the first time.
Fifa had originally planned to vote on the 2026 hosts in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, but Fifa’s newly established ruling Council said a decision would be made in October when confederations can put bids forward. It is widely assumed that 2026 will be Concacaf’s turn for the first time since 1994, with United States, Canada and Mexico all interested in hosting football’s showpiece event.
The Council, which met ahead of Friday’s Fifa Congress, also agreed that a decision on whether to expand the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams in 2026, will be made in October. This proposal was included in Gianni Infantino’s presidential election manifesto.
A Fifa statement said there would be a review on whether to allow joint bids and the “eligibility of confederations.”
The Council laid out a four-stage bidding process:
A consultation phase that will run until May 2017;
An “enhanced phase for bid preparation” between June 2017 and December 2018;
A bid evaluation between January 2019 and February 2020;
The vote in May 2020.
One of the conditions outlined by Fifa will be that candidates must meet strict new human rights regulations.
For the first time the hosts will be decided not by members of the Fifa Exco but by the governing body’s entire membership based on a shortlist recommended by the Council.
Joint bids were effectively banned in 2011 but Infantino is keen to bring them back.