TORONTO — The CONCACAF joint bid for the 2026 World Cup now has a board of directors and an executive team. What lies ahead is a lot of work in a short time frame.
Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will learn Aug. 11 whether they have competition to host the newly expanded world showcase of men's soccer. Deadline for submitting the formal bid to FIFA is March 16, 2018, with the winner slated to be announced in June.
"Very condensed," Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association and the man who will quarterback Canada's part of the bid, said of the timeline. "It's everybody working together, all hands on deck, to make this happen for the united bid by March 16, there's no doubt about it. Certainly there's not the luxury of time.
"But in viewing these things, it's not necessarily a bad thing as well because it gives everybody who wishes to be engaged the necessary momentum to get things done in an accelerated time frame. If the will is there, we believe it can get done."
The three countries have been working on the bid since it was formally announced April 10. On Thursday they added some flesh to the framework.
The 10-member unified bid committee board includes three Canadians in Montopoli, CSA president Steven Reed and Victor Montagliani, CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president. The U.S. is represented by board chairman Sunil Gulati, Carlos Cordeiro, Donna Shalala, Dan Flynn and MLS commissioner Don Garber while Decio De Maria and Guillermo Cantu represent Mexico
Montopoli will serve as Canada bid director with Yon De Luisa, vice-president of the Televisa media company, as his Mexico counterpart. John Kristick has been hired as executive director for the united bid committee with Jim Brown as managing director in charge of technical operations.
The four-person executive team, entrusted with day-to-day administration of the bid process, reports to the board.
Montopoli plans to reach out to Canadian mayors next week to begin the process of determining their interest and whether they meet requirements.
The three countries have already agreed on a division of games with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 each with the remaining 60 going to the U.S., including all knockout matches.
"We'd certainly like to get in as many venues as possible within the bid," said Montopoli.
It is standard procedure to include more potential host cities than required, with FIFA making the ultimate decision on which ones will be chosen.
FIFA gets the final say because it's "their competition at the end of the day."
"Right now we're concentrated on winning the bid," Montopoli added.
FIFA has issued general guidelines on what is needed. More thorough information will follow the August deadline.
The three CONCACAF nations can also draw on their own history, having hosted 13 FIFA World Cups combined (including men's, women and youth).
Most recently Canada hosted the Women's World Cup in 2015, drawing record crowds, which Montopoli says means many of the necessary contacts are already in place.
Montopoli also noted that Canadians ranked in the top 10 of countries when it came to buying tickets for the last two men's World Cups — and No. 1 among countries that were not part of the field.
"It just shows you what the interest is of a men's World Cup in Canada for Canadians. And it's our right to try and get this for our country, for our fans, for our people."
The 2026 men's tournament will mark the first with 48 teams, up from the current 32.
Montopoli says there is no bid budget as of yet.
"But I can assure everybody that it will be a financially responsible bid, no doubt," he said.
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