The United States will play a lead role in hosting the 2026 World Cup along with Mexico and Canada. The World Cup 2026 location came down to bids from Morocco and North America. What are the World Cup 2026 host cities? As of now, we know the 23 finalists, and FIFA will narrow this list down as soon as 2020.
There was skepticism that the United States would be able to win the bid for a few reasons. North America’s bid received a much higher grade than Morocco, so why would it not win? The short answer is a lower grade typically means more stadiums have to be built, and more new stadiums leads to more money for FIFA.
According to FIFA, North America’s bid scored higher than Morocco in every major category except organizing costs. On a scale based on 1 to 5, the North American bid was given a 4.0, while Morocco scored a 2.7. The United States bid earned high marks in stadiums (4.1), transportation (4.3), media/marketing (4.9) and ticketing/hospitality (5.0).
According to The New York Times’ Andrew Das, North America won the vote 134-65. The winner only needed to have a majority of the votes.
The 23 cities that are finalists for FIFA to choose included three in Canada, three in Mexico and 17 in the United States. According to the MLS, up to 16 of these finalists could host a World Cup match, and we are awaiting word on what cities have been selected. Here’s the full list of cities that are in contention courtesy of the MLS.
World Cup 2026 Cities (Finalists)
|Atlanta, Georgia||United States|
|Baltimore, Maryland||United States|
|Boston, Massachusetts||United States|
|Cincinnati, Ohio||United States|
|Dallas, Texas||United States|
|Denver, Colorado||United States|
|Houston, Texas||United States|
|Kansas City, Missouri||United States|
|Los Angeles, California||United States|
|Miami, Florida||United States|
|Nashville, Tennesssee||United States|
|New York/New Jersey||United States|
|Orlando, Florida||United States|
|Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||United States|
|San Francisco, California||United States|
|Seattle, Washington||United States|
|Washington, D.C.||United States|
Yahoo Sports listed the 17 U.S. cities in order of contention from greatest chance to host to least likely.
The 17 cities and stadiums in contention, roughly in order of likelihood they make the final list, are: New York (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.), Los Angeles (Rose Bowl, Pasadena), Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), Dallas (AT&T Stadium, Arlington), Washington D.C. (FedEx Field), San Francisco Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara), Boston (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough), Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field), Miami (Hard Rock Stadium), Houston (NRG Stadium), Seattle (CenturyLink Field), Denver (Mile High Stadium), Nashville (Nissan Stadium), Orlando (Camping World Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium), Baltimore (M&T Bank Stadium) and Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium).
The list will be cut from 17 down to 10 by 2021. Cities will barter with the bid committee and compete with each other. They’ll likely be selected not solely based on traditional criteria, but on how much they promise to invest in soccer outside of the World Cup.
While FIFA could pick any of the 23 cities, 10 cities were highlighted in North America’s proposal. Los Angeles, Mexico City and New York/New Jersey were listed as potential choices for the opening match. Atlanta, Boston, Dallas and Washington D.C. were highlighted for the semi-finals. Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York/New Jersey were the favorites for the final.
How did FIFA decide between the North American and Morocco bids? There was a public vote of the FIFA member nations as ESPN detailed.
On Wednesday, every FIFA member nation will get to vote, with the exception of the four bidding nations. Instead of 24 voters, we’ll have 207. Or possibly 203, if the four U.S. territories — Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands — who have their own FAs — are barred from voting, as Morocco has requested.
The last time the United States hosted a World Cup was in 1994, and many believe the 1994 tournament played a major role in increasing the popularity of soccer in America. Fox soccer analyst Alexi Lalas, who played a key role on the 1994 team, was visibly emotional on the air after the United States won the 2026 bid.