Infantino: 2026 World Cup bid must be 'bullet-proof'

FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes to start 2026 bidding within three months.

FILE: FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes to start 2026 bidding within three months. Picture: AFP

LONDON - FIFA must make the 2026 World Cup bidding process "absolutely bullet-proof" because the entire organisation's credibility is at stake, new president Gianni Infantino said on Friday.

Infantino, elected Fifa boss last week, hopes to start 2026 bidding within three months after it was delayed by the wide-reaching corruption scandal that rocked the governing body last year.

"We have to get the 2026 bidding process absolutely right," Infantino told the BBC.

"It's certainly the commitment that I want to give; that I will do everything I can to make sure that this happens because I think that the credibility of FIFA is, as well, at stake here.

"We need to make sure that we do everything we possibly can, not only to prevent strange things to happen around bidding processes but also to prevent the perception that strange things could happen.

"We need to make sure that bidding process that we put in place is absolutely bullet-proof."

Every World Cup bidding process since 1998 has been the subject of allegations of corruption and bribery.

The awarding of the 2018 and 2022 finals, to Russia and Qatar respectively, is being probed by Swiss authorities.

On Friday, a report into the bid for the 2006 World Cup awarded to Germany found no evidence of vote-rigging but was unable to explain a $10 million payment by the country's bid chief Franz Beckenbauer to a company owned by Mohammed Bin Hammam.

Qatari Bin Hammam, a former president of the Asian Football Confederation, was banned from all soccer-related activity for life in December 2012 for integrity issues.

Infantino reiterated his position that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups needed to go ahead, regardless of investigations.

"I am a pragmatic person," he said. "FIFA needs to deliver two World Cups, one in two years and one in six years, for decisions which have been taken six years ago.

"There has been a lot of speculation and a lot of allegations but not one single fact, in six years.

"At some stage we have to say 'let's focus on working'. I want to work and help Russia and Qatar host the best World Cups ever, as we always say."