Lars  Haue-Pedersen

During his campaign for the United States Presidency back in 2019, Joe Biden's team launched the slogan "build back better". 

It might still be a little unclear as to what exactly he meant with the phrase, but it's certainly catchy and President Biden still uses it now when promoting his wider agenda for moving the US forward.

The slogan jumped to my mind last week when FIFA released the bidding regulations for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2027.

As part of the FIFA reforms put in place over the past years, the decision will now be made by all FIFA member associations rather than just the FIFA Council. 

So, next May at the FIFA Congress, every national football association, big and small, will each have an equal vote in deciding where the event goes in 2027.

As part of the new process, over the next year workshops will be organised for the bidders, site-visits will be conducted and an on-going exchange is foreseen between FIFA and the various bids.

Moreover, the bid process will be monitored by an independent audit company in terms of compliance. There will be principles and procedures to follow, and each bid will have to appoint a bid compliance and ethics officer.

Could Joe Biden's slogan be used for the bidding of sporting events? ©Getty Images
Could Joe Biden's slogan be used for the bidding of sporting events? ©Getty Images

And in addition, later this year FIFA is expected to launch a similar process for the 2030 FIFA Men's World Cup that will be decided towards the end of 2024.

What is not to like about all of this? It seems that football has brought bidding back - but in a more comprehensive, transparent, and in my opinion, overall better way.

President Biden's campaign team might call it "bid back better" - and one would think that other international sports organisations might see this as an example to follow and adapt it themselves.

But, unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.

While bids for the FIFA World Cup will continue to share their vision and ideas for football and produce exciting and engaging campaigns at home and abroad, most other international sports organisations are moving towards closed door negotiations with interested host cities or countries.

The process is rather unclear - although "flexible" is the term used - and timelines for decisions are often not made public and/or changed with short notice. 

We have now even witnessed two editions of an event being awarded at the same time during a meeting, with no formal announcement shared in advance that these editions of the event were even open for consideration.

The decision criteria for awarding events are also rather "flexible". The material – if any? - submitted by the bids is kept confidential, and while the final ratification, like in the case of the Olympic Games, is made by the full membership, only one option is put forward to the members.

And there is certainly no sign of any independent audit company monitoring the process to ensure compliance.

The process is branded a "dialogue process", but the complete absence of dialogue or any information shared with the outside world is stunning compared to what football is doing.

Athletes, fans, media and all other stakeholders who are interested in these sports and follow them closely have no idea what's going on until an announcement is suddenly made.

FIFA has launched a new way of awarding World Cups ©Getty Images
FIFA has launched a new way of awarding World Cups ©Getty Images

What is there to like about this? 

I would say very little. And the biggest risk is to other sports organisations themselves who stand to lose out to FIFA as it capitalises on the additional promotion of football and the World Cup, as well as on the recognition of the openness of their approach.

FIFA World Cups will only appear even stronger in the future because the decision - made several years in advance - about where to organise them becomes part of the public engagement.

Maybe it's time for others to rethink so they too can bring bidding back - better.