Fifa admits to delays over allocation of 2026 World Cup host cities
The selection of host cities for the 2026 Fifa World Cup in USA, Canada and Mexico has been significantly delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, soccer's governing body has announced.
Fifa was due to visit USA in March for a workshop with the 17 cities under consideration to stage matches but that was cancelled because of the outbreak of the virus, and a virtual workshop will get under way today.
Fifa was hoping to finalise the venues by spring 2021 but that timeline was based on having started the process this March and conducting two rounds of inspection visits by year end.
On a conference call ahead of the workshop, Colin Smith, Fifa's chief tournaments and events officer, said: “Obviously now we have had to delay that. It is very difficult to give a final date because we don’t know when the start date is.
“The start date of the workshop is tomorrow but it’s not clear yet obviously when we will be able to come and conduct those inspection visits. I would say we need a few more weeks yet to see how things develop and then I would say Q3, beginning of Q4 this year we would have a better idea as to the inspection visit schedule and then obviously the time needed for the selection.”
A total of 23 venues have been put forward to host matches at the 2026 World Cup, with Fifa to select up to 16.
The US candidate cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.
Ten are expected to be selected, plus three cities each in Canada (Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto) and Mexico (Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey). Canada and Mexico are expected to stage 10 games each at an 80-match World Cup, with the vast majority taking place in USA.
Workshops in Canada and Mexico were held before Covid-19 lockdowns.