Zurich - Newly elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino has fired the starting
pistol in the race to host the 2026 World Cup and backed the approach of the
German Football Association (DFB) in investigating the award of the 2006 event.
"It is fairly urgent," Infantino said about the 2026 World Cup on
Monday at FIFA headquarters, on his first day as president of the world
"We have to start the bidding process in the next months, possibly before
the congress in May (in Mexico City)."
The 2026 World Cup will be awarded based on the votes of all 209 FIFA members
rather than executive committee as in previous years.
The United States, Canada and Mexico have expressed an early interest
in hosting the event.
Infantino began his tenure with a friendly football match for staff and famous
faces such as former stars Luis Figo and Andriy Shevchenko at FIFA headquarters
but immediately faces a potential challenge this week in the shape of a report
into alleged corruption in Germany's successful bid for the 2006 World Cup.
"I have complete confidence in Wolfgang Niersbach and the DFB,"
he said. "They have tackled the issue seriously."
Niersbach resigned as DFB president on November 9 last over the affair but
has so far retained his position as an executive with FIFA and with European
governing body UEFA.
"Before you speculate about anything, we have to see what comes out on
Friday," Infantino said when asked if Niersbach could continue to
stay in place with FIFA.
"My way of doing things is to talk not before but afterwards."
German football was rocked by allegations of vote-buying surrounding the
country's successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup and the DFB appointed law
firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to investigate the matter.
As part of its investigation into an alleged slush fund Freshfields is looking
into a payment of €6.7 million euros from German
organizers to FIFA in 2005 which was declared as money for a World Cup cultural
event which never took place.
The money was instead, via FIFA, for former Adidas chief executive Robert
Louis-Dreyfus who had forwarded the sum on behalf of the World Cup organizing
committee to FIFA several years earlier.