OTTAWA – The soccer federations of Canada, Mexico and the United States have officially formed a United Bid Committee to kick off the bidding process to bring the 2026 FIFA World Cup to North America, it was announced Thursday.

Ten members of the board of directors have been confirmed.

The board includes representatives from the three member federations and CONCACAF: Sunil Gulati (chairman), Steven Reed (Canada), Peter Montopoli (Canada), Decio De Maria (Mexico), Guillermo Cantu (Mexico), Carlos Cordeiro (U.S.), Donna Shalala (U.S.), Dan Flynn (U.S.), Don Garber (U.S.) and Victor Montagliani (CONCACAF).

“Canada Soccer is pleased to take this important step in our collaboration with Mexico and the United States for our united bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup with the formation of the United Bid Committee,” Reed said in a statement. “We are confident that the collective expertise and experience of the Committee members will result in a world class bid worthy of the world’s most popular sport.”

Montopoli has been appointed Canada bid director and Televisa vice president Yon De Luisa as Mexico bid director. John Kristick has been hired as the executive director for the United Bid Committee for the three CONCACAF member federations. Jim Brown was named managing director, technical operations.

“We are thrilled to kick off the bid process with our partners from Canada and Mexico. This is a special opportunity for North America to unite behind our sport of soccer and the quest to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” Gulati, the U.S. Soccer president in a press release. “The United Bid Committee has the experience and resources to deliver a successful bid, but it will require an enormous team effort over the next eight and half months so we can demonstrate to FIFA the full potential of our three nations and partners in CONCACAF to put on the finest World Cup in history.”

The deadline for the submission of the formal bid to FIFA is March 16, 2018. With less than nine months remaining and anticipating a record number of cities that will compete to serve as official host cities, the bid committee will begin formal outreach to cities and stakeholders immediately.

“For my country today is a very important day,” De Maria said in a press release. “These three countries will be very happy to receive the rest of the world and to validate that football allows us to unite countries, that it is a celebration, and that we will receive all those who want to come to enjoy this great party. Offering the possibility for Mexico to organize a third World Cup is very special.”

The three nations have hosted 13 FIFA World Cups combined (men’s, women and youth), which is more than any other trio of geographically-connected nations, and set attendance records for five of those events. The 2026 World Cup will be the first with the expanded 48-team format, requiring facilities and infrastructure that these countries are uniquely suited to fulfill.

FIFA has established a deadline of Aug. 11 for member associations to confirm their intention to compete to host the 2026 competition