Its process delayed by the onset of the pandemic, FIFA now hopes to choose the 16 host cities for the 2026 World Cup in the U.S., Canada and Mexico during the final three months of 2021, the governing body announced Tuesday. The selection will follow in-person venue visits, which FIFA intends to start in July.
“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,” it said in Tuesday’s statement.
The 2026 World Cup, the first with 48 teams, will be spread across three Canadian cities, three Mexican cities and, most likely, 10 American cities chosen from among 17 candidates.
Those cities and venues are:
USA — Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), Baltimore (M&T Bank Stadium), Boston (Gillette Stadium), Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Dallas (AT&T Stadium), Denver (Empower Field at Mile High), Houston (NRG Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium), Los Angeles (Rose Bowl*), Miami (Hard Rock Stadium), Nashville (Nissan Stadium), New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium), Orlando (Camping World Stadium), Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field), San Francisco Bay area (Levi’s Stadium), Seattle (Lumen Field) and Washington, D.C. (FedEx Field).
*The Rose Bowl was listed in the United Bid's original proposal, but the new SoFi Stadium theoretically could be considered as well.
Canada — Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium), Montreal (Stade Olympique), Toronto (BMO Field).
Mexico — Guadalajara (Estadio Akron), Mexico City (Estadio Azteca), Monterrey (Estadio BBVA).
Canada and Mexico will host 10 matches each, while the U.S. will host 60, including the quarterfinals, semifinals and final. The 37-member FIFA Council will select the cities/venues. Among its members are former U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati and Concacaf president Victor Montagliani from Canada.
FIFA said it plans to conduct virtual meetings with representatives from each potential stadium starting at the end of February. Then in April, FIFA and the three host associations will begin having “targeted virtual discussions” with each candidate city.
“While stadiums remain the foundation for the successful hosting of a FIFA World Cup, FIFA considers that providing key infrastructure and services (both sporting and general) and realizing the commercial potential of each venue, as well as in terms of sustainability, human rights and event legacy, is of the utmost importance,” FIFA said.