2026 World Cup: U.S. Soccer outlines its plans to select host cities

U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro and the federation have outlined plans for 2026 World Cup host sites. (Ira L. Black/Getty)
U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro and the federation have outlined plans for 2026 World Cup host sites. (Ira L. Black/Getty)

In a letter to officials in the 17 United States cities vying to host games at the 2026 FIFA World Cup, U.S. Soccer outlined its plan for selecting the 10 American venues that will make the cut when a decision is reached early next year.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo Sports, was sent Friday by U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro. The 2026 World Cup will be hosted jointly by the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Canada and Mexico are expected to choose three locations each, although FIFA will have the ultimate say on which North American cities make up the final 16-stadium field.

“We are delighted that the United States has 17 world-class cities and stadiums competing to be part of the first 48-team FIFA World Cup in history,” Cordeiro wrote. “We are pleased to share the following information with you regarding the upcoming process to select the final venues.”

That information included the following:

  • Former U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, who retired from that role last year, has been charged with leading the process and will be the main point of contact for the bidding cities.

Flynn has existing relationships with many of them; he was part of the groups that selected the venues for the wildly successful U.S.-hosted 1994 World Cup, 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cups and 2016 Copa America Centenario. The 1994, 1999 and 2016 tournaments remain the best-attended in each competition’s history.

“Dan’s experience and knowledge in planning and executing men’s and women’s World Cups will be instrumental as we move forward,” Cordeiro wrote.

  • Each stadium site will be visited twice by the selection committee between March and November 2020. The cities will also participate in “workshops” with Flynn’s team next month, then make final proposals for inclusion before the list is whittled down.

Specific details regarding the selection process, including “structure, timeline, delegation, methodology, etc.” will be presented during the workshops, the letter said.

The 17 bids comprise 18 venues in all, as Los Angeles’ submission includes both the iconic Rose Bowl, where the 1994 and 1999 World Cup finals were held, and a new 100,000-seat capacity NFL stadium in Inglewood that is scheduled to open later this year.

The other contending U.S. markets are New York/New Jersey, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco/Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Chicago, the third-largest American city, home to U.S. Soccer and host of the opening match of the 1994 World Cup, declined to bid because of concerns over FIFA’s lack of financial guarantees.

Canada’s three bidders are Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton. However, there are whispers that Vancouver, which like Chicago did not originally tender a bid, could return to the fold at Edmonton’s expense. Vancouver’s BC Place hosted the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.

Canada Soccer general secretary Peter Montopoli will lead that country’s final selection process, while Mexico’s will be helmed by FMF COO Mauricio Culebro. Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey are the three cities slated to host matches in Mexico.

With the number of participating teams jumping 50 percent, from 32 in Qatar to 48 in North America four years later, the 2026 World Cup will be the largest of all time. Eighty matches will be contested in all, with every game from the quarterfinals forward scheduled to take place in the U.S.

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