The wait for the official announcement of U.S. host cities for the 2026 World Cup has certainly seemed interminable and it just got a little longer.
FIFA has sent word that a final decision will be made by the end of 2021. This is a year later than the governing body originally expected to have news and unsurprisingly, COVID is the culprit.
According to USA TODAY, The United Bid, as the USA/Canada/Mexico bid is known, currently lists 23 possible cities (found at the end of this article). That list will need to be trimmed back to 16: 10 cities in the U.S. and three each in Canada and Mexico.
FIFA has also included the caveat that it will only make its announcement if the pandemic allows; officials first will need to take inspection trips to the shortlisted cities in the United States and to the three each in Canada and Mexico – something that can only happen if conditions are favorable.
“The visits will only take place if the health and safety situation in the host countries allows FIFA to do so,” the governing body said in a statement.
The FIFA schedule timeline currently states the following:
- Following on from the information-exchange phase initiated last year, FIFA and the host associations will organize virtual one-on-one meetings with each stadium to discuss infrastructural aspects from the end of February 2021 onwards.
- From April 2021, FIFA and the host associations will launch targeted virtual discussions with each candidate host city.
- Bearing in mind the constantly changing circumstances with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, FIFA and the host associations are aiming to start the venue visits in the candidate host cities at the beginning of July 2021. In keeping with FIFA’s policy of following the recommendations of the health authorities in the context of the pandemic, the visits will only take place if the health and safety situation in the host countries allows FIFA to do so.
- Provided the aforementioned venue visits are conducted, FIFA and the host associations aim to have the host cities appointed by the FIFA Council in the last quarter of 2021.
Potential host cities, according to the MLS Soccer blog, have already held virtual information exchanges, with FIFA is hoping to make greater progress this year. The 2026 World Cup, in addition to being held across three North American countries, will include 48 teams for the first time.
At the moment, the 2026 World Cup is not the international governing body’s most pressing concern as it is consumed with the 2022 event – and whether and how it will come to fruition. According to ABC News, all Asian qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup scheduled to be played in 2020 were postponed to 2021, meaning FIFA’s global calendar of national team games now has too few dates to complete the qualifying program as originally planned.
Looking ahead to 2026, however, there is every reason to believe the pandemic will be under control and that widespread vaccination will help ensure the safety of spectators.
There is a list of 23 cities across the United States and Mexico interested in hosting games in the 2026 World Cup. Here are the cities in alphabetical order and their stadiums; FIFA also includes city-by-city information on its site.
- Atlanta: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (capacity 71,000)
- Baltimore: M&T Bank Stadium (71,008)
- Boston/Foxborough, Mass.: Gillette Stadium (65,892)
- Cincinnati: Paul Brown Stadium (65,515)
- Dallas/Arlington, Texas: AT&T Stadium (105,000)
- Denver: Broncos Stadium at Mile High (76,125)
- Houston: NRG Stadium (71,500)
- Kansas City, Mo.: Arrowhead Stadium (76,416)
- Los Angeles/Inglewood/Pasadena, California: New NFL stadium (80,000, with potential to expand); Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (around 78,500 after renovation); or the Rose Bowl (87,527)
- Miami: Hard Rock Stadium (65,767)
- Nashville: Nissan Stadium (69,143)
- New York/East Rutherford, New Jersey: MetLife Stadium (82,500)
- Orlando: Camping World Stadium (65,000)
- Philadelphia: Lincoln Financial Field (69,328)
- San Francisco/San Jose/Santa Clara: Levi’s Stadium (75,000)
- Seattle: CenturyLink Field (69,000)
- Washington, D.C. (venue is actually in Landover, Maryland): FedEx Field (82,000)
- Edmonton, Alberta: Commonwealth Stadium (56,335)
- Montreal: Olympic Stadium (61,004)
- Toronto: BMO Field (36,000; expansion to 40,000 has been planned)
- Guadalajara: Estadio Chivas (45,364)
- Mexico City: Estadio Azteca (capacity 87,000)
- Monterrey: Estadio BBVA Bancomer (52,237)
The 2026 World Cup was awarded in 2018, with FIFA noting its original intention of announcing the final host cities in 2020 or 2021.