FIFA has turned down a proposal that would have given the U.S.-led bid an exclusive path to winning hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup, with other candidates now given three months to present rival bids.
The North American contingent — featuring the U.S., Mexico and Canada — proposed a fast-tracked timeline that would have given the bid a year to meet FIFA's technical standards without competing against any rivals. The FIFA Council instead put forth a plan to accept additional bids until Aug. 11.
But the council did agree to the condensed timeline that would award the 2026 World Cup in June 2018, instead of the original plan to confirm the host in 2020.
"This is a victory for us," U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said, according to ESPNFC. "We got what we wanted most. An open process is a good thing and we're very confident that our bid will be a high quality one."
Europe and Asia are ineligible to host the 2026 World Cup because Russia and Qatar won the rights for 2018 and 2022, respectively, while South America and Oceania have endorsed the North American bid — leaving Africa as the only potential rival.