The 2026 World Cup city selection process

2026 World Cup City Selection Process

The 2026 World Cup will be jointly staged in the USA, Canada and Mexico. Initially 41 cities with existing facilities were under consideration to be part of the bid, but two elimination rounds have now reduced this to 22 venues. The 2026 World Cup city selection process is nearing its conclusion.

Whilst the USA has staged the tournament before, in 1994, and Mexico has twice played host, in 1970, and 1986, it will be a first for Canada. With the intention to host games in two venues in Canada (see: Canadian World Cup 2026 host cities), and three in Mexico (see: Mexican World Cup 2026 host cities), barring any last minute hitches, it seemed certain that the Canadian games would be staged in Edmonton and Toronto. Whilst Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara will host the Mexican matches, because those were the only candidate cities from those countries still in the running.

Last month, though, Vancouver threw a potential spanner in the works. Namely, by announcing that it was considering a bid to host games at BC Place, home of MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps. This will potentially make the Canadian selection process more challenging.

2026 World Cup city selection process straightforward?

Despite this, the 2026 World Cup city selection process for the Canadian as well as Mexican cities is straightforward, compared to choosing the 11 American World Cup 2026 host cities which is proving more of a challenge. That is because there still are 17 cities/metropolitan areas vying for selection – Los Angeles, New York/New Jersey, Washington D.C., Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nashville, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Cincinnati, Miami, and Orlando.

The final selection process was complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic. This resulted in delays to the planned visits of the proposed venues by FIFA delegates and representatives from host associations. Virtual information exchanges had already taken place, but, with the lifting of travel restrictions, local site inspections finally began last autumn.

FIFA Timetable announcement 2026 host cities

As yet there has been no firm timetable announced by FIFA as to when the final selection will be made, although they have previously indicated that it would likely be in the second quarter of this year. However, world football’s governing body are aware that this may yet be the most difficult World Cup to stage from a logistical viewpoint. Whereas in Qatar all eight stadiums are within a fifty mile radius of each other, the footprint for the 2026 World Cup is the biggest yet. With thousands of miles separating some of the venues.

Organisers need to take into account teams and fans travel, and to ensure that players and supporters are not spending time and money criss-crossing countries unnecessarily. There is also the fact that some of the venues are at altitude. This may put some teams at a disadvantage, and some stadiums have electrical roofs to protect pitches from the elements and others do not.

Sometime in the next few months, though, FIFA will come to a definitive decision.