Forty-one cities in Canada, Mexico and the United States have submitted bids to serve as host cities for the 2026 World Cup, officials said Thursday.
The joint North American bid is seen as the favourite for 2026, with only one other bid – Morocco – so far in the running for the tournament.
In July, the committee reached out to 44 cities and got responses from all but three — Calgary, Alberta; Green Bay, Wis.; and San Diego. That leaves 32 cities in the U.S., six in Canada and three in Mexico up for consideration.
The committee will review all bid submissions and release an initial shortlist of cities. After that is released, the bid committee will provide more detailed bid information to cities and hold meetings to discuss questions as candidate cities prepare their final bids.
With the 2026 World Cup set to be the first to have an expanded field of 48 teams, it’s expected that at least 12 cities will ultimately be chosen to be official host cities, on which FIFA will have the final say.
“The Host Cities will help define the United Bid. Each will offer the best facilities and infrastructure to stage the world’s biggest single-event sporting competition, the FIFA World Cup, and together they will play a key role in the development of the sport in North America,” United Bid Committee Executive Director John Kristick said.
“We’re thrilled with the submissions that we have received, especially each city’s commitment to innovation and sustainability, and we look forward to bringing the best group of candidate host cities together for our official United Bid.”
All stadiums are required to have at least 40,000 seats for group stage matches, and a capacity of at least 80,000 to be considered for the opening match and the final.
The submitted bids must provide information about each city’s experience hosting major sporting and cultural events, potential venues, transportation infrastructure, available accommodations, environmental protection initiatives and more.
In addition to a stadium capable of hosting international soccer, each city must propose a list of potential training sites and locations for team base camps as well as hotels for teams, staff and VIPs.
The United Bid Committee will also evaluate cities on their commitment to sustainable event management, aspirations to develop soccer, and the positive social impact they anticipate stemming from the event in the local community and beyond.
Cities not selected to host matches may be involved with the World Cup in other ways. Those cities, including those not submitting bids to serve as official host cities, could be selected as the location for the International Broadcast Center, host team base camps, or host other major events such as the preliminary or final draw.