- The revelation is sure to raise concerns that FIFA is ‘gaming the system’
- The revelation also raises red flag that FIFA has a preferred destination for event
- There are only two bids in play for the 2026 summer World Cup
- There is a joint bid by the USA with Mexico and Canada and the bid by Morocco
FIFA insisted on clauses in broadcasting contracts that will earn them windfall bonuses of $302m (£216m) from North American broadcasters if the 2026 World Cup is awarded to the USA and its neighbours.
The revelation is sure to raise concerns that football’s world governing body is ‘gaming the system’ and has a preferred destination for the event, driven by financial reasons, to the detriment of the USA’s sole rival, Morocco.
There are only two bids in play for the 2026 tournament, a joint bid by the USA with Mexico and Canada and the bid by Morocco.
The revelation about the 2026 World Cup will raise concerns that FIFA is ‘gaming the system’
The tournament destination will be decided after a vote of all eligible 207 FIFA nations at the world governing body’s summer Congress on June 13 in Moscow. A simple majority of 104 will be required for victory.
Morocco, a nation with a rich football heritage, will have the backing of most of Africa’s 54 votes but America are seen as hot favourites, not least by the USA. The former head of the US Soccer Federation, Sunil Gulati, is understood to have had first-hand knowledge of the secret cash deals over 2026.
Sources say if the event is given to the USA then a variety of payments contingent on that outcome – known as ‘production contributions’, but in effect bonuses – will be payable to FIFA by broadcasters who have already agreed separate set fees to show the event.
Sunil Gulati (C) is understood to have had first-hand knowledge of secret cash deals over 2026
FOX Sports would be due to pay FIFA $182m (£130m) on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars already agreed for rights, sources say, while NBC would have to pay $115m (£82m) on top the sums already committed for their Spanish-language arm Telemundo, and Canadian broadcasters would pay an extra $5m (£3.6m).
As the Mail on Sunday revealed last month, Qatar’s state-owned TV company beIN Sports, agreed an extra $100m payment to FIFA before the vote for the 2022 tournament in the event Qatar was picked to host it, as transpired. There is nothing illegal about such payments and beIN and FIFA declined to confirm details.
On the £216m FIFA could land in bonuses from 2026, FIFA said: ‘Specific contractual details pertaining to business relationships maintained by FIFA with its media rights licensees are subject to confidentiality clauses, which is in line with commonly applied business practices.’