FIFA Suspends Bidding for 2026 World Cup Amid Corruption Scandal

by Alexander Smith /  / Updated 

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Soccer's scandal-plagued governing body FIFA announced Wednesday that it has suspended the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup.

The United States is widely considered favorite to host the tournament, having narrowly lost out to Qatar to stage the 2022 edition of the world's largest sporting event.

As part of their landmark case into allegation corruption at FIFA, U.S. and Swiss officials are investigating the soccer body's bidding process for the 2022 event as well as the 2018 World Cup awarded to Russia.

"Due to the situation, I think it's nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being. It will be postponed," FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told a news conference in the southern Russian city of Samara.

FIFA's compliance chief told a Swiss newspaper Sunday that Russia and Qatar could be stripped of their host status if evidence emerges of bribery in the bidding process.

Before the corruption allegations even emerged, the shock decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup had come under particular scrutiny.

Summer temperatures there regularly top 110 degrees, forcing FIFA officials to make the unprecedented announcement in March that the tournament would be held in winter and shortened by four days. The country has also come under fire for its alleged human rights abuses and unacceptable death rates of migrants workers who are building the stadiums and infrastructure.

The United States' bid to host the 2022 event lost out to the Gulf emirate by eight votes to 14, with several figures implicated in FIFA's corruption scandal among the executive committee members who voted.

Speaking at Wednesday's press conference, Valcke also issued a fresh denial that he was involved in wrongdoing over $10 million in bank transactions under investigation by U.S. authorities.

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