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What is on the FIFA Congress agenda?

FIFA
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

2026 World Cup hosting vote postponed three years until 2020

The hosts of the 2026 World Cup will be decided in May 2020, three years later than originally scheduled because of the corruption scandals that have engulfed FIFA.

In an attempt to avoid the recriminations that dogged the 2010 decision to give the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 tournament to Qatar, world football's governing body will try a four-phase approach for 2026.

This will effectively be a year of consultation and then three years of "bid preparation" and evaluation, but a decision on whether to leave the tournament at 32 teams will be made in October 2016.

The bidding process was the headline announcement from the first two-day meeting of the new FIFA Council -- the successor body to the ExCo -- in Mexico City.

The consultation phase of the process will run until May 2017 and will look at four main areas: human rights and environmental protection, the ability to exclude bids that do not meet technical requirements, a review of stance on joint bids and whether to increase the World Cup to 40 teams.

A decision on the latter, however, is expected by this October, with Europe's leading clubs already making their displeasure at the idea of expansion clear.

Also settled in October will be which confederations can put bids forward, with the current rules only excluding the Asian Football Confederation because Qatar will have hosted the previous World Cup.

After the consultation phase, there will be an "enhanced phase for bid preparation" between June 2017 and December 2018, before bid evaluation between January 2019 and February 2020 culminating in the May vote.

With bids likely to come from CONCACAF nations Canada, Mexico and the United States -- perhaps in a combination of two or even three of those nations -- as well as interest from Australia and New Zealand, Turkey and Kazakhstan, Morocco and perhaps even England, FIFA will not be short of suitors.

But new FIFA president Gianni Infantino knows the organisation cannot afford another decade of the kind of scrutiny that the decision to go to Qatar has brought.

FIFA will try to avoid the recriminations that dogged the 2010 decision to give the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Last month, Harvard human rights expert Professor John Ruggie wrote a damning report for FIFA about its failure to make human rights a priority in its decision-making or exert more pressure for change on hosts.

Qatar's slow progress in reforming how it treats and uses migrant workers has reflected very poorly on FIFA.

FIFA's many critics will be hoping that the new, more orderly approach to selecting hosts should result in venues that have properly considered how they will build the required infrastructure, what impact that will have on their countries and what the development benefits will be for them and global football.

Infantino has placed football development at the heart of his attempts to rebuild trust in FIFA, so it was fitting that the Swiss-Italian was able to admit Kosovo and Gibraltar to the club, subject to a vote of all member football associations in Thursday and Friday's FIFA Congress.

FIFA was recently ordered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to proceed with Gibraltar's application, after strong opposition from Spain, and UEFA welcomed Kosovo to the fold in a very close vote at last week's meeting of the European confederation, again under opposition from a neighbour, this time Serbia.

Both nations should now be able to take part in the qualifying tournament for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, although it is still uncertain if Kosovans currently playing for other nations will be able to play for their homeland.

Among other decisions reached by the 25-strong FIFA Council was the award of $500,000 to Ecuador to repair football facilities damaged in April's earthquake, the confirmation of Uruguay's bid to host the Under-17 Women's World Cup in 2018, the suspension of the Benin FA for judicial interference and the approval of the continued participation of New Zealand's Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League.

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