A total of 32 cities have been shortlisted as potential hosts for the United States, Canada and Mexico’s joint bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The three countries, which announced their plan for a joint bid in April, stated they had received 41 applications from cities interested in forming part of their proposal.
John Kristick, executive director of the United Bid Committee, revealed the number had been narrowed down after a review of each of the communities and facilities on offer.
The US has the majority of the 32 shortlisted cities, with 25 having been included on the list across numerous states.
Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Miami are among those shortlisted.
They are joined by Minneapolis, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Tampa and Washington DC.
Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver have been put forward as the four Canadian cities, while the Mexican candidates are Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.
“As we move to the next stage of the bid process, we’re even more confident we have everything needed to deliver the largest, most compelling FIFA World Cup in history and help accelerate the growth of soccer across North America and around the world,” said Sunil Gulati, United Bid chairman.
“We have more than double the number of cities required to stage matches in 2026.
“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.”
The committee stated they would continue engaging with non-host cities in the further development of their concept.
It is now expected that the Committee will begin to work with local officials to finalize the hosting documents required by FIFA.
Representatives from the 32 potential host cities are set to travel to Houston on November 13 to take part in a working session with the Committee.
The selection process will examine various factors such as city profile, stadium and support facilities and services, as well as their contribution to the sport’s development and bid vision
The Committee state that each of the 32 potential host cities features existing or already planned stadiums and other world-class infrastructure, meeting or exceeding the requirements outlined by FIFA.
Alabama, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Regina and San Antonio were not selected.
The Committee states the cities are being considered as possible locations for team base camps or for other competition related events leading up to the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The US hosted the 1994 World Cup, which had the highest average attendance in the tournament’s history.
Mexico became the first nation to host the FIFA World Cup twice in 1986, having also done so in 1970.
Canada are yet to stage the World Cup and have only made one appearance to date, making a group exit after three straight defeats at Mexico 1986.
However, the country did host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which featured an expanded 24-nation field with matches played in six cities across five time zones.
In May, FIFA’s membership voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Council’s proposals to keep the bidding window for the 2026 World Cup open for a further three months at the governing body’s Congress in Bahrain.
The motion, which gave eligible nations until August 11 to enter the race for the tournament, passed with a 93 percent majority.
It came after the Council rejected a proposal from Canada, Mexico and the US to fast-track their bid.
They instead opted to allow other nations to submit an expression of interest in hosting the competition before the deadline.
The expedited process for the 2026 event will see the host nation decided at next year’s FIFA Congress on June 13 in Moscow, held prior to the opening match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Morocco are the only other contender for the 2026 tournament, having announced their candidacy in June.
The expansion of the event from 32 to 48 teams is thought to have put Morocco at a disadvantage compared with the North American bid.
The two bids must submit their official bid books by March 2018.
By Michael Pavitt
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.