March 26, 2018 / 1:34 PM / a month ago

Soccer: Infantino promises 'fair, transparent' 2026 bidding process

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA President Gianni Infantino described the bid process for the 2026 World Cup as “fair, objective and transparent” after the global soccer body announced it had received bid books from two candidates on Monday.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks during a news conference in Panama City, Panama March 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Lemos

FIFA, which is due to choose the hosts at its annual congress in Moscow in June, said in a statement it had received one bid from Morocco and a joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The two bids will be evaluated by a task force which will visit all the potential host nations, FIFA added.

“I challenge anyone to point out an organisation that conducts a bidding process as fair, objective and transparent as the one that FIFA is carrying out for the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” Infantino said in the statement.

“FIFA has been heavily criticised for how it conducted the selection of hosts in the past; it was our obligation to learn from this and leave no room for any doubt or subjectivity,” he added.

“This is why the rules of this process... include the highest standards in terms of ethical conduct, participation and commitment to sustainability and human rights.”

The last World Cup bidding process, for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, became embroiled in persistent allegations of illegitimate attempts to influence the 22 voting FIFA executive committee members.

The tournaments were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively at a single vote in December 2010. A subsequent FIFA investigation made no suggestion that either should lose their hosting rights, despite detailing numerous attempts to influence voting officials.

In light of the allegations, FIFA expanded the right to vote to all its 211 member national associations.

The task force will use a point-scoring system to evaluate the two candidates and a bid which does not meet a minimum score on a number of different points will be disqualified before the final vote.

The FIFA Council, formerly known as the executive committee, also has the power to reject a bid before it reaches the congress.

“Every single step is documented and open to the public: from the submission of the bid books through each round of assessment to the decision-making process,” said FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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