Still waiting for the decision on 2026 FIFA World Cup game hosts? The wait just got a little longer. Yes, once again.
Sports Illustrated notes, “FIFA targeted mid-May for announcing site selections, but that has pushed that back until at least mid-June.”
Of course, not even that is certain, apparently. The Florida-based publication, The Community Paper, says that “a decision is expected to be announced by the end of June.”
Back in late November 2021, FIFA had announced that it expected to “finalize the selection process by Q1/Q2 2022.” And The Stadium Business quoted Colin Smith, FIFA chief tournament and events officer, as saying a decision on the successful North American cities is expected sometime toward the end of March or early April – at the latest “by April of next year.”
But now, we’re looking at June. There hasn’t been a concrete reason given for the change in dates but here’s what we do know: There have been recent alterations in some of the host city bids that were put in; they are as follows:
New Combined Bid from Washington and Baltimore: Last week, sports tourism officials in both Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC, announced the two areas would combine their resources for a joint 2026 World Cup bid that would see games staged at M&T Bank Stadium in Maryland and ancillary events, such as a giant fan festival, in the District.
“I think it’s a great day for the capital region,” Terry Hasseltine, executive director of the Maryland Sports Commission, which oversaw Baltimore’s bid, told the Baltimore Sun. “I think both Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, DC both had solid pieces to their bids. ... But I think at the end of the day, to give us the biggest opportunity to be successful, merging our inventory of assets together only makes sense. And I think it gives us a stronger chance to be there when FIFA makes the final decision.”
An article in The Washington Post stated, “There was no mention of FedEx Field in a news release issued by Events DC, the local sports authority, but during an inspection tour of venue candidates last fall, FIFA and U.S. Soccer Federation officials privately expressed concern about playing games at the Washington Commanders’ stadium in Landover [Maryland].”
The Post adds that the 25-year-old FedEx Field (wags sometimes refer to it as Murphy’s Law Field) has had scores of problems. During NFL games in this past season alone, a pipe broke and its contents went into the stands, a sprinkler went off in a suite, and a tunnel railing collapsed. Fans have decried the stadium’s poor location and traffic flow, and players have complained about field conditions. FIFA officials expect high-end amenities at stadiums that host World Cup competitions. (A new stadium is expected to be built; however, it will not be ready in time for the World Cup).
Vancouver Replaces Montreal in Canadian Host Bid: CBC News in Canada has this information: FIFA has confirmed that B.C. Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, has been added as a proposed site in Canada to host matches, along with Edmonton, Alberta; and Toronto, Ontario.
FIFA made the announcement in mid-April, nine months after Montreal dropped out when the Quebec provincial government withdrew its support. Vancouver had originally declined to be part of the bid, citing the cost and difficulty of working with FIFA, but after COVID, had a change of heart.
CBC News notes, “Last month, Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced Vancouver would put up to $5 million toward a provincial bid to bring 2026 World Cup games to the city, more than tripling the $1.5 million the city spent hosting women's 2015 World Cup games in Vancouver.”
So, with both these changes to bids from potential host cities, it could be that FIFA officials are waiting a little longer to review all relevant information before announcing a decision.
Games and Venues Still Being Considered: The United Bid had proposed a specific lineup of games; however, those are subject to FIFA’s final decision.
According to Wikipedia, “The official bid has proposed the main opening match be held in either the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City or at the Rose Bowl in the Los Angeles area, that all three host countries' teams would host their first matches on the first day of the tournament and that the final match be held at MetLife Stadium in the New York/New Jersey area. The bid also proposed that the two semi-final matches would be held at AT&T Stadium in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. All of the other cities in the American portion of the bid are under consideration for quarter-final matches. The bid book proposal calls for Mexico and Canada to each host seven group-stage games, two matches in the round of 32, and one in the round of 16.”
And unless and until the decision is announced by FIFA, expect the rumor mill to be in overdrive with multiple cities hosting soccer-oriented events and showcasing their World Cup potential. A few are listed here.
For now, here’s who’s in the running, according to Sports Illustrated:
The remaining areas and stadiums:
- Arlington, Texas, AT&T Stadium
- Atlanta, Mercedes-Benz Stadium
- Baltimore, M&T Bank Stadium/Events in Washington, DC as well
- Cincinnati, Paul Brown Stadium
- Denver, Empower Field at Mile High
- East Rutherford, New Jersey, MetLife Stadium
- Foxborough, Massachusetts, Gillette Stadium
- Houston, NRG Stadium
- Inglewood, California, SoFi Stadium
- Kansas City, Missouri, Arrowhead Stadium
- Miami Gardens, Florida, Hard Rock Stadium
- Nashville, Tennessee, Nissan Stadium
- Orlando, Florida, Camping World Stadium
- Pasadena, California, Rose Bowl
- Philadelphia, Lincoln Financial Field
- Santa Clara, California, Levi’s Stadium
- Seattle, Lumen Field
- Edmonton, Alberta, Commonwealth Stadium
- Toronto, BMO Field
- Vancouver, British Columbia, B.C. Place
- Guadalajara, Estadio Akron
- Mexico City, Estadio Azteca
- Monterrey, Estadio BBVA
If you're counting along at home, that's 17 U.S. cities up for hosting duties. FIFA is expected to pare that down to 10 or 11.
SDM will continue to follow this issue.