PASADENA, Calif. – Barely a year into his post as president of CONCACAF, Jeffrey Webb is looking over a dozen years down the line. Webb, who also serves as a vice president and a member of the executive committee of FIFA, wants North America to host the 2026 World Cup.
CONCACAF last hosted a World Cup in 1994. Roberto Baggio famously missed a penalty as Brazil defeated Italy in the Rose Bowl, which also housed Webb's press conference on Sunday.
The United States bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, but was passed over in favor of Russia and Qatar, respectively.
“For us I think it was unfair for our confederation to miss 2022,” Webb said. “It doesn't matter for me – it's 41 members – whether it's the United States, Mexico or Canada. I believe it's so important for us as a confederation to host the World Cup in 2026. That will have been 32 years, which would have been the longest span since World War II that we have not hosted a World Cup as a confederation.”
Mexico previously hosted in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never served as the venue for a full men's World Cup, but will host the 2015 women's World Cup
Though CONCACAF contains more than three dozen member nations, the three in North America represent likely the only viable candidates to host a World Cup.
Webb mentioned that he has held meetings with U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, CSA president Victor Montagliani and FMF president Justino Compeán to discuss bringing the quadrennial event back to the region.
“We collectively must make an effort. We must decide, ultimately, that it doesn't matter which country within CONCACAF hosts it,” Webb said. “We've said it very clear from the outset, that 2026 must belong to [this] confederation.”
Webb still stings from losing the 2018/22 World Cups, with corruption and bribery allegations accompanying the opaque process. Two members of the FIFA executive committee were banned in 2010 after accepting bribes from Times reporters posing as lobbyists.
But Webb smarts over the recent hosting decision because it abandoned FIFA's rotation policy. Previously, FIFA awarded World Cups in rotation by continent. However, it split from that process in order to pursue new locations and markets for the 2018 edition. Had the rotation policy remained, CONCACAF would have hosted the 2018 World Cup, according to a CONCACAF spokesperson.
“The biggest losers, for us, in the rotation, was CONCACAF,” Webb said. “The World Cup is taking place in Brazil because of the rotation. The World Cup took place in South Africa because of the rotation. We're the biggest losers. For us it must be one of the top priorities for us going forward.”
The Cayman Islands native claimed that CONCACAF will only endorse a FIFA president candidate who supports the region's bid for the 2026 World Cup. Sepp Blatter's current term ends in 2015.
“It comes down to sports politics,” Webb said. “I'll be very frank and very open with you that whoever the next president of FIFA becomes, for any support to come from CONCACAF, that must be one of the overarching objectives and commitments to this confederation, that 2026 will come to CONCACAF.”
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