The host cities and the venues for the 2026 FIFA World Cup have been locked in. On Thursday, a total of 16 cities across the United States of America, Canada and Mexico were named as hosts to the first ever 48-team FIFA World Cup.
“This part of the world doesn’t realise what will happen here 2026,” said a zealous FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
“I mean these three countries will be upside down and then flipped again back. The world will be invading Canada, Mexico, and the United States and they will be invaded by a big wave of joy and of happiness because that’s what football is about.”
A shortlisting process that originally began with 49 stadiums across 44 cities in the three countries was finally narrowed down to 11 cities across the US, three in Mexico and two in Canada.
10 games each will be hosted in Canada and Mexico, while a total of 60, including all the knockout fixtures shall be played in the venues across US.
Mexico’s Azteca Stadium will become the first to host three men’s World Cups, having already staged the final in 1970 and 1986. USA had hosted the event back in 1994. Canada, on the other hand, will be hosting the tournament for the first time.
Even though the 1994 World Cup caught a lot of eyes, soccer still isn’t as big as the four major sports in America, Baseball, Basketball, American Football and Ice Hockey. Even though the US national women’s team have won the Women’s World Cup four times, more than any other team.
Jerry Wayne Jones, owner, and general manager of Dallas Cowboys was excited about the team’s home ground, AT&T Stadium being one of the 11 venues in the country to host the major tournament in 2026.
“The longer I’m in sport, the more I realize how important soccer is to this world,” he said.
“To be able to participate in such an event is really awesome and inspiring.”
A major exclusion out of the 16 final cities was that of the US capital, Washington DC. What was a joint bid alongside Baltimore for the M&T Bank Stadium missed out on the selection.
The local leaders in the capital were quite positive on the bid to go through and had even organised a watch party at a Downtown DC bar. The mood at the place was evidently low as visible in a photo posted by a user on Twitter.
— Carmen Rodríguez (@LaRodriguezCJ) June 16, 2022
“We’ll be engaging with all of the cities that weren’t chosen to host matches,” FIFA’s Chief Competitions & Events Officer, Colin Smith said after the announcement.
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“There are still lots of other areas of cooperation and working together and celebration. We know what a fan fest on the National Mall would be like.”