Venue Selection for the FIFA World Cup 2026™ Picks Up Steam


“Six years seems like a long time, it's really not,” said FIFA Chief Tournaments and Events Officer Colin Smith.


FIFA World Cup 2026™, which will be the largest and perhaps the most spectacular World Cup ever, arrives in North America in just six short years. For the first time, 48 teams will compete for soccer’s ultimate prize in the first tournament hosted by three countries.


Tuesday’s Candidate Host City Workshop for the U.S. marked another big step in the process to decide which host cities will earn the honor of staging games in the United States. While the COVID-19 global pandemic has slowed many things around the planet, including this venue process, Smith is anxious for things to advance in the USA, Mexico and Canada.

We're certainly impatient to get moving on this journey together,” Smith said. “We've got what we believe is an excellent platform and now we just really look forward to working together with all the partners across the cities and the stadiums in order to bring this to fruition.”

Leaders of the USA’s venue selection, Smith and former U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, spent Tuesday, July 7 meeting with representatives from all 17 U.S. candidate cities to lay out the road to hosting the 2026 World Cup.

“We look at the full picture… It really is an integration of many, many different factors,” Smith said. “The location of the venues, the time zones. We also look at the climate conditions, in terms of the timing of matches, the heat in certain matches at certain times of the day… We look at the roads, we look at the airports, we look at the hotel, transport concepts, mobility concepts.

“Part of that is looking at what does the whole city want to achieve from hosting this World Cup? What can this World Cup bring to them? As much as obviously what a city can bring to us, what are they looking to get out of it?”










Kansas City

Los Angeles



New York/New Jersey



San Francisco Bay Area


Washington, DC

Canada and Mexico held their Candidate Host City Workshops earlier this year, but the USA’s meeting was delayed by the pandemic. The workshop was adapted to be held virtually instead, giving city representatives, sports industry leaders, stadium administrators and political officials among others, the opportunity to ask questions and better understand the path ahead.

Following the workshop, Smith and Flynn will meet virtually with all 17 cities individually over the coming weeks. The coming years will bring detailed inspection visits to the venues. From that pool, it is likely that 10 will be selected to host the tournament’s planned 60 matches in the U.S. alongside three venues each in Canada and Mexico, which are to host 10 matches each.


And while six years may seem like a long way off, Flynn already looks forward to the day after the 2026 World Cup. The USA last hosted a men’s World Cup in 1994 and the legacy of that tournament helped drive enormous growth in the game over the last 26 years. 2026 could make an even greater impact.

“The 2026 World Cup is a tremendous opportunity for the sport in our country and U.S. Soccer is going to be taking a broader view,” Flynn said. “We want to look at how we can capitalize on this opportunity between now and ’26, I think with the overall vision and goal will be what does our industry look like the day after the 2026 World Cup?’


“Our sport is at a different level than it was pre-’94 … How we can culturally extend, go beyond just the sports fan, and make the event something more than just a soccer or global football tournament?