The bidding process for the 2026 World Cup has been postponed amid allegations around the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke said it was “a nonsense” to begin the process in the current climate. The vote to decide who will host the 2026 World Cup is due to take place in Kuala Lumpur in May 2017.

The United States are front-runners to stage the tournament, but Canada, Mexico and Colombia are also thought to be interested.

Russia and Qatar were selected to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups by a secret ballot of Fifa’s 22 executive members in December 2010. But Swiss prosecutors are now investigating alleged financial irregularities surrounding the bidding process. Both Russia and Qatar have denied any wrongdoing.

Football’s world governing body had planned to inform its member federations this week of the bidding schedule for 2026, but Valcke said: “Due to the situation, I think it’s nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being.”

Speaking in the Russian city of Samara, Valcke also defended Fifa’s handling of a $10m (£6.5m) payment from the South African government towards a Caribbean diaspora legacy programme. US prosecutors allege the payment was a bribe to help secure the 2010 World Cup for South Africa. The South African government insists it was a legitimate payment to promote Caribbean football.