US cities await Q4 Fifa decision on 2026 World Cup hosts
There are 23 candidate cities, albeit the battle for selection appears to be a US-only one, with host cities in Canada (Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto) and Mexico (Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey) all but confirmed.
Fifa is expected to pick 16 host cities in total, meaning 17 candidates in USA are fighting for 10 spots. They are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.
Fifa and the host city bid teams have been forced into virtual dialogue by the pandemic over the past 10 months, and that will ramp up towards the end of next month with online one-on-one meetings with each proposed stadium to discuss infrastructural aspects.
From April, Fifa and the host associations will launch targeted virtual discussions with each candidate host city, with the aim - travel permitting - to start venue visits to the candidate host cities at the beginning of July.
Provided those venue visits take place, Fifa and the host associations aim to have the host cities appointed by the Fifa council in the last quarter of 2021.
The exact selection criteria has not been revealed by Fifa, but the governing body did note that "while stadiums remain the foundation" for the successful hosting of the tournament, "providing key infrastructure and services (both sporting and general) and realising the commercial potential of each venue, as well as in terms of sustainability, human rights and event legacy, is of the utmost importance."
The 2026 World Cup will be the first to feature 48 nations, up from 32 in 2022, with Canada and Mexico expected to stage 10 games each and 60 being played across USA.
A sports city feature on Orlando and its 2026 Fifa World Cup bid will appear in the next edition of Sportcal Insight, out next month.