Sixteen cities from across Canada, United States and Mexico have been named hosts to stage the 2026 FIFA World Cup, it was announced by the International football governing body FIFA in New York City Thursday.
22 cities across North America were vying for the expected 16 spots.
Initially proposed cities from Mexico – Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey – have remained unchanged during the process and those three cities will share the 10 matches to be staged in the Southernmost of the three host nations. Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, a venue that has already hosted two World Cup finals, will also feature in 2026.
Canada’s journey has been more complicated, with four shortlisted cities being reduced to two named as official sites. Vancouver backed out early in the process after FIFA refused to discuss financial details. Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal were included in the original list of potential hosts but the latter dropped out of the competition last year after the Quebec government refused to financially back the project.
In March, FIFA announced that Vancouver had re-entered the race after city council had a change of heart and agreed to fund the event, bringing Canada’s field back to three. Last week leaked reports suggested that Edmonton’s proposed venue Commonwealth Stadium did not meet FIFA’s requirements, and as a result was excluded from the final list. Provincial officials reportedly made the bid contingent on hosting at least 5 of the 10 matches allocated to Canada, and two knockout round matches of which none are allocated to the nation.
Toronto and Vancouver will share the 10 matches to be held in Canada.
As many as 34 U.S. cities were originally interested in hosting matches but after FIFA cuts only 18 remained. In April, the Washington D.C. and Baltimore bids were merged with matches expected to take place in Baltimore and supporting fan events in the United Stated Capital. 16 locations remained to vie for the 11 spots and 60 matches across the nation.
Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and New York/New Jersey were named U.S. host cities Thursday.
Los Angeles proposed two venues but only one, the newly built SoFi Stadium, will stage matches as the historic Rose Bowl was left off the final list.
Also missing the cut were Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville, Orlando and Washington DC/Baltimore.
On June 13, 2018 in Moscow, FIFA awarded the 2026 World Cup to the ‘United Bid’ comprised of Canada, Mexico and the United States after the trio defeated only rival Morocco by a vote of 134 to 65. The decision will result in Mexico being the first nation to host three World Cup tournaments after staging the event in 1970 and 1986. United States will stage matches for the second time after it first hosted in 1994. Canada will host men’s World Cup action for the first time.
It will be the first time FIFA will use a 48 team tournament – up from the previous 32 – and the resulting 80 matches will be split with 60 to be held in the United States and 10 each in Canada and Mexico.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.