EXCLUSIVE: The White House will set up a Task Force to prevent visa chaos at the 2026 World Cup – amid concerns that millions of fans will be affected by US entry protocols
- The 2026 World Cup is set to take place across the US, Mexico and Canada
- There are concerns the tournament will be engulfed by visa and travel chaos
- The White House is planning to set up a Task Force in an attempt to prevent this
The White House is to set up a Task Force in an attempt to prevent the 2026 World Cup from being engulfed by visa chaos.
Mail Sport has learned that a specialist group will be formed by officials in the US capital amid concerns that players, support staff and millions of fans may be impacted by red tape.
Despite the fact that the tournament will not kick off for three years, those in power have acted now to try and create a system that will allow those involved to travel without issue.
It is understood that FIFA bosses are working with their counterparts in the US in what will be a complex and time-consuming operation.
The tournament is being held across three countries – the US, Mexico and Canada – which complicates an already-tricky situation.
The White House is to set up a Task Force in an attempt to prevent the 2026 World Cup from being engulfed by visa chaos
FIFA – run by Gianni Infantino – are making preparations for the tournament, which will take place across the US, Mexico and Canada in three years time
Thanks to expansion, 104 matches will be played instead of the traditional 64 with an expanded 48 teams taking part. The increased number of participants and matches complicates matters further.
Entry to the US is likely to cause the biggest headache, with obtaining a visa a notoriously difficult and time-consuming process for many which has been slowed by the Covid pandemic.
Avoiding a scenario in which players are unable to gain the necessary paperwork to allow them to represent their countries will be key to planning.
In many instances, interviews at embassies are required and extra staff may have to be drafted in to deal with demand.
Should countries whose residents are not permitted to enter the country qualify, special dispensation will have to be made.
There is also the potential for problems with those with criminal records whose entry could also be problematic. Aside from the question of entry to each country, teams and their legions of supporters will need to cross borders with very little notice as the tournament progresses to the knockout stages.
There have been concerns players, staff and millions of fans may be impacted by red tape
The controversial increase to 48 teams has only complicated matters further
And there will be fears that those wishing to enter the US illegally may use the World Cup as an opportunity to do so. Some have wondered if the US will follow the route used by Russia when it hosted the World Cup in 2018. Back then, those who bought tickets were given a ‘Fan-ID’ which acted as a multi-entry and exit visa to and from Russia.
The prospect of a specialist visa for the duration of the tournament has also been mooted, however, that is highly unlikely given that it would require legislative action.
Canada and Mexico already have systems in place that allow travel for some people who have a US visa and there is a confidence that this will play a key part in the task force’s planning.
The White House declined to comment.
A spokesperson for FIFA said: ‘FIFA are working with the authorities on all operational aspects related to the 2026 World Cup and more details will follow in due course. The full focus now is on the women’s World Cup.’