Race to host 2026 World Cup begins

2016-02-29 17:47
Gianni Infantino (AP)

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 governing body.

"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.

Read more on:    fifa  |  gianni infantino  |  soccer

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