Photo: STR/AP

The U.S.-led North American bid for the 2026 World Cup earned 93 percent of the 209 votes in FIFA Congress today. In March, the North American soccer federations requested an exclusive window to begin submitting technical specifications, which would give them a head start in the planning process. But this week, FIFA, in its ostensible concern for fairness and appearances, turned down the request and insisted that the World Cup, for which only one bid has been submitted, is still up for grabs.

FIFA said other countries still have until August 11 to submit bids, because that’s what fairness and transparency demand. From ESPN:

The North American bid had initially asked FIFA to grant it an exclusive window to meet the technical specifications, but — with an eye toward the importance of transparency in FIFA’s post-scandal world — the FIFA Council amended that to allow for any other nations that might want to bid.

“We have to make sure this bidding process is bulletproof,” Infantino said.

Making sure the “process is bulletproof” is not a difficult undertaking when there is only one wealthy, highly favored bidder involved. It doesn’t leave much room for the corruption that plagued the awarding of previous World Cup bids to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. And while some reports have named Morocco as a potential rival, the decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams in 2026 makes the U.S.-Mexico-Canada joint bid even more appealing, as it would be capable of handling the increase in games.

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There’s nothing wrong with FIFA keeping the window open for other bids—in fact, that’s a good idea. But using this move to signal that it is cleaning up it’s act, while continuing to operate like the shady global snake’s nest it’s always been, is disingenuous.