The 2022 World Cup in Qatar begins in less than five months, but the tournament’s organizers will look forward — far ahead — when they announce the host cities for the 2026 World Cup in North America on Thursday. The championship in 2026 will be a multi-national event, hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada, which won the bid four years ago. FIFA, the world’s governing body of soccer, will select the locations that will host the matches, which will most likely be 16 in total. Starting in 2026, FIFA will take back important planning responsibilities for the World Cup that were previously delegated to local organizing committees.
Many of the options will be known to World Cup viewers. Two of the stadiums have already held a World Cup final: Azteca Stadium in Mexico City (twice) and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Six of the American cities and all three Mexican cities have hosted previous World Cup matches, and FIFA assessed two of the Canadian finalists before hosting games in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
In its most important decision about the 2026 tournament since North America was chosen to host it, FIFA is set to choose 16 cities from a list of 22 finalists, distributed – somewhat unequally — among the three host nations.
The finalists are as follows:
Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C./Baltimore are among the 16 cities in the United States.
Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey are the three cities in Mexico.
Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are the three cities in Canada.
The 22 finalists were chosen after a cull that began in 2017 and saw more than 40 applications from potential host cities across North America, a group that once included seemingly sure things like Los Angeles, New York/New Jersey, and Mexico City, but also the since-dismissed hopes of places like New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Jacksonville, Fla. in the United States, and Montreal, Ottawa, and Regina, Saskatchewan, in Canada.
From the first list in 2017 to the final, Mexico’s three candidate cities have remained unchanged.
Last month, FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani said, “In keeping with previous stages of the FIFA World Cup 2026 selection process, any announcement would be made in the best interests of football,” a lofty sentiment that FIFA has struggled to live up to in the past.