FIFA Postpones Bidding Process for 2026 World Cup

FIFA headquarters HQ - H 2015

A host nation was originally scheduled to be picked by May 2017, with the U.S. being seen as one of the favorites.

World soccer governing body FIFA said Wednesday that it would postpone the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup amid the current bribery scandal.

A host nation for the 2026 edition of the tournament was originally set to be discussed over the next year and announced in May 2017. Formal bidding was expected to start soon. Now, the timetable will be delayed, even though no specific dates were immediately announced.

In the U.S., Fox has the English-language rights for the 2026 World Cup.

On Wednesday, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke announced the news of the decision to suspend the bidding process for now. "There was a decision to allocate this World Cup in 2017 and start the bidding process soon," Bloomberg News quoted him as saying. "Due to the situation I think this is nonsense to start any bidding process for time being and we will postpone the bidding process."

He spoke in Russia. Appearing with him was Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko who said he saw no threat to Russia hosting the tournament in 2018.

Swiss and U.S. prosecutors have been investigating alleged irregularities and bribes, including tied to the decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 events to Russia and Qatar, respectively. Some have suggested the bidding for the two tournaments should be reopened. FIFA's decision to delay the decision on the 2026 World Cup host doesn't necessarily mean that this would happen.

The U.S., Canada, Mexico, Colombia and others have in the past signaled an interest in hosting a future World Cup.

Meanwhile, FIFA's executive committee will meet in July to set dates for the process to elect a new president after Sepp Blatter recently announced his resignation.

Twitter: @georgszalai