FIFA announced on Wednesday the 16 North American cities that will host matches for the 2026 World Cup, with 11 venues chosen in the United States, three in Mexico and two in Canada.
The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament hosted by three nations and also the first to expand to 48 teams in the competition.
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The cities officially selected to host World Cup matches in the United States are: New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium); Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium); Dallas (AT&T Stadium); San Francisco Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium); Miami (Hard Rock Stadium); Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium); Seattle (Lumen Field); Houston (NRG Stadium); Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field); Kansas City, Missouri (Arrowhead Stadium); and Boston (Gillette Stadium).
The host of the 1994 World Cup final, the Rose Bowl, was not chosen, with another Los Angeles-area venue, SoFi Stadium, chosen instead.
“It was the most competitive process ever for the FIFA World Cup,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino told Fox Sports of the selection process. “We will work in clusters, ensuring teams and fans don’t have to travel too much to different regions: West, Center and East.”
The cities officially selected to host World Cup matches in Mexico and Canada are: Guadalajara (Estadio Akron), Monterrey (Estadio BBVA Bancomer), Mexico City (Estadio Azteca), Toronto (BMO Field) and Vancouver (BC Place) .
“This is a historic day for American football and the entire American football community, from every corner of our base to the pros and our national teams,” President of American Football Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement. a statement. “Along with our good friends in Canada and Mexico, we couldn’t be more excited to work with FIFA to deliver what we believe will be the greatest World Cup in history.
“I want to congratulate all of the Bid Cities that will host matches. I know you will all do a fantastic job of sharing your world-class stadiums, your unique communities and culture, and your amazing fans when the world comes to North America. in four years.”
The following candidates were not selected: Baltimore/Washington (M&T Bank Stadium); Orlando, Florida (Camping World Stadium); Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium); Nashville, Tennessee (Nissan Stadium); Denver (Empower Field at Mile High); and Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium).
“It was an incredibly competitive process. All the cities were amazing, it was a very, very tough choice,” said Colin Smith, FIFA competitions and events director. “You can’t imagine a World Cup being held in the United States and the capital also not playing a major role. We are engaging with all the cities that have not been chosen to host matches. There are still many other areas of cooperation and working together and celebrating.We know what a fan fest on the National Mall would be like.
Of the original “United 2026” offer from the three nations, 60 games are expected to be played in the United States, while Mexico and Canada will each get 10 games. Once the tournament reaches the quarter-finals stage, all remaining knockout matches will take place in the United States.
Originally beginning with applicants from 44 cities and 49 stadiums across North America, the site selection process began in 2017. Potential applicants were asked to “provide information on transportation infrastructure of each city, their past experience in hosting major sporting and cultural events, available accommodations, environmental conditions, protection initiatives, potential venues and more”, which also included possible training sites, camps base and other considerations.
In March 2018, just months before United’s 2026 bid would officially receive the rights from FIFA to host the 2026 World Cup, the list of North American bidders was narrowed down to 23. Regions such as Chicago, Minneapolis were not on the list. and Arizona, due to what city officials described as issues with FIFA’s financial requirements.
Other notable cities excluded from the 2018 23 Sites list were Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit; Vegas; Salt Lake City and Tampa, Florida. Vancouver, initially out of the running after disagreements over funding, eventually replaced Montreal after dropping out in 2021 when the provincial government withdrew support.
A FIFA delegation, led by CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice-President Victor Montagliani, visited all candidate host cities at the end of 2021.
Baltimore’s joint bid with Washington at M&T Bank Stadium was announced in April after FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, pulled out of the race and opted to merge with Baltimore’s bid. According to the proposal, there would have been a fan festival on the National Mall in Washington.
With the Rose Bowl not selected, none of the US venues from the 1994 Men’s World Cup will be used for the 2026 edition of the tournament.
Five of the 2026 World Cup cities – Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York/New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area – were among nine of the 1994 venues, while five others – Atlanta, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle – were on the shortlist in 1994, but didn’t make it.
When asked if it was more important than winning the hosting rights to a Super Bowl, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said: “Frankly, I think it’s a wider interest from a Dallas perspective. The longer I’ve been in the sport, the more I realize how important football is to this world. To be able to participate in such an event is…really awesome and inspiring.”
In 1994, the Cotton Bowl hosted the World Cup matches. When the Cowboys first thought of building a new stadium, they did so with the idea of hosting big events. AT&T Stadium has hosted a Super Bowl, the NCAA Final Four, the College Football Playoff Championship, an NBA All-Star Game, and many major boxing matches.
“When we built the stadium it was to host big, big events,” Jones said. “And it wasn’t just American football.”
Infantino would not tip FIFA’s hand over which city would host the opening match of the 2026 tournament, saying: “There are still discussions to continue and we will definitely choose the best cities there as well for the opener. and the final, but every match will be a final of this World Cup.”
However, Dallas 2026 committee chairman and FC Dallas chairman Dan Hunt had his own ideas on staging the World Cup final and added that the stadium could accommodate six matches, if not more, FIFA to make this decision in 2023.
“Our stated goal is to get to the final,” Hunt said. “That’s why we competed to do it.”
Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, which hosted the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals, will be the first stadium to host three men’s World Cups. Mexico will also be the first country to host or co-host three men’s World Cups.
The 1994 World Cup, the last time the United States hosted, sparked a boom in popularity for the beautiful game, with Major League Soccer kicking off its inaugural season two years later.
But the sport hasn’t made it past the four major men’s professional leagues: Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL and NHL.
In fact, many 2026 games will be played on reconfigured American football fields, with some now using artificial turf. The entire 2026 World Cup will be played on natural grass.
But with passionate fans around the world planning to travel, Infantino said the region was ripe for a second football revolution.
“This part of the world doesn’t realize what’s going to happen here in 2026. I mean these three countries will be upside down and then turned upside down,” Infantino said.
“The world is going to invade Canada, Mexico and the United States and they will be overwhelmed with a great wave of joy and happiness because that is football.”