Seattle has moved one step closer to becoming a host city for the 2026 World Cup, advancing through the latest round of cuts that now brings the number of candidates to 32 cities across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The last round lopped off nine cities, leaving 25 from the United States.
“We have more than double the number of cities required to stage matches in 2026,” United Bid Chairman Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “We have a vision for growing the game and engaging fans as never before. Our biggest challenge will be finding ways to honor the enthusiasm of all the people across Canada, Mexico and the United States through the development of our united hosting concept.”
While Gulati implied that at least 16 cities would be required to host the expanded 48-team tournament, there has been no word as to how many cities will be included in the final bid. It has been speculated that the United States will host a similar number of games as they would have in a 32-team tournament. Of the seven tournaments either played or scheduled to be played with 32 teams, the standard has been to have 12 host cities. The one major exception was the 2002 tournament co-hosted by South Korea and Japan that featured 20 host cities, albeit clustered in much closer geographic proximity than is possible for this bid.
Assuming the so-called “United” bid follows a similar blueprint, there will likely be 18 to 20 host cities, including 12 to 13 inside the United States. That would require the current group of 25 U.S. cities to effectively be cut in half.
According to the release, some of the factors to be considered when determining the final list of hosts include city profile, stadium and support facilities (training sites and hotels) and transportation.
“The United Bid Committee also looked at ways each city could contribute to a united hosting strategy for the 2026 FIFA World Cup including their contribution to the sport's development and the United Bid’s vision — not only during the tournament, but in the eight-year build up and the social, economic, and environmental legacy.”
Potential host cities
Vancouver, British Columbia
Mexico City, Mexico
Monterrey, Nuevo León
United States (25)
Charlotte, North Carolina
Kansas City, Missouri
Las Vegas, Nevada
Los Angeles, California
New York/New Jersey
Salt Lake City, Utah
San Francisco Bay Area
Cities no longer under consideration
Birmingham, Alabama; Cleveland, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Ottawa, Ontario; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Regina, Saskatchewan; and San Antonio, Texas.