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2026 our time, says Webb

Barry Alleyne

2026 our time, says Webb

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Thirty-two years is a long time to wait for anything. Jeffrey Webb is tired of that wait.

The president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) is on a mission to see the World Cup come back to this part of the world, and he wants it done by 2026.

A CONCACAF member has not hosted the world’s most prestigious football tournament since the United States did so in 1994, a tournament won by world powerhouses Brazil. Before that, Mexico had hosted the planet’s top 32 teams in 1986.

Since then CONCACAF had drawn a blank, even though member teams continue to buck the odds.

“Football is a business and I must tell you, that CONCACAF must host World Cup 2026,” Webb said to rapturous applause at yesterday’s opening of the inaugural Soccerex Americas Forum, being held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

“If we go more than 32 years without hosting a World Cup in our region, it would be an injustice,” the outspoken CONCACAF chief said.

“As a confederation, we must start examining ourselves in world football. We must stand and unite as a region, for having 2026 World Cup.”

Webb made it clear that the United States, Canada and Mexico are the three countries with the available resources and infrastructure required to host World Cup 2026.

“If you look, you would realise that Europe has hosted three World Cups within that 32 years. Brazil hosted 2014, Asia hosted 2002 and Africa has hosted in 2010. I believe that only confederation which has a legitimate claim to host 2026 is CONCACAF. That discussion should start and end with CONCACAF,” Webb said.

He said the only other confederation that should be allowed to even peep into the hosting process should be Africa again, since they are the “next less” confederation to have hosted the sport’s largest and most prestigious tournament.

According to Webb, CONCACAF’s results on the field should also assist in their bid to host another World Cup.

He paid special attention to the results of CONCACAF teams at Brazil 2014.

“What happened at the World Cup (in Brazil) with the United States and Honduras doing so well, is only the beginning,” Webb said about CONCACAF’s ability to put a stamp on world football.

“The Caribbean must start a fire to ignite Central America. Central America must start a fire to ignite North America. Our teams go to the World Cup much better prepared. It’s not easy, but what we saw in Brazil from Costa Rica and Mexico was a manifestation of those challenges. They captured our minds and imagination. They really showed the world the passion that we in CONCACAF have for the sport.”

The president believes that with the talk of scandal and corruption now in the background after FIFA completed a complete investigation last year, CONCACAF is on a path to prosperity.

“We have institutionalised the organisation. We are on solid footing and there is great governance, with over 20 selected committees running CONCACAF. The decision-making is widespread, and I believe we are in a great position to continue moving forward at the moment.”