FIFA and CONCACAF Visit Possible Venues for the 2026 World Cup

FIFA and CONCACAF are close to making a decision on the venues for the United States, Canada, and Mexico that will host the 2026 World Cup matches.

FIFA and CONCACAF are close to making a decision on the venues for the United States, Canada, and Mexico to host the 2026 World Cup matches. The decision is expected next spring. 

A delegation from FIFA and CONCACAF completed its second series of visits in Seattle on Monday. The city is a strong candidate to stage matches due to its soccer history, its pleasant summer weather and it is the only city in the Pacific Northwest to submit a proposal. 

FIFA’s head of tournaments and events, Colin Smith, said they will end all visits to potential venues at the end of November and expect to make a decision in late March or early April. 

“Certainly the decision has gotten more complicated with each stop, which I think is a positive problem,” Smith said. 

The 2026 World Cup will be the first to include 48 teams, which represents a logistics problem. It will be the World Cup with the greatest geographic coverage. Matches will be played from Edmonton in Canada to Mexico City, and from Seattle to Boston in the United States. Smith indicated that they are currently contemplating selecting 16 cities to host games, but that has not yet been defined. 

Seattle was the latest in a series of visits that included Kansas City, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Monterrey in Mexico, and San Francisco. In September, the delegation visited Boston, Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando, Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami, and the New York-New Jersey area. 

They are expected to make another series of visits this month to Mexico City and Guadalajara, in addition to Los Angeles in the United States, and Edmonton and Toronto in Canada. 

“In the end, it’s like a piece of the puzzle in all these different areas,” Smith said.  

One of the biggest questions for Seattle and other candidate cities is what to do with synthetic courts. FIFA requires pitches with natural grass in the World Cup. 

Seattle does not appear to intend to replace the synthetic turf at Lumen Field, the stadium in which the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and MLS’s Seattle Sounders play. They have had mixed results with temporary natural grass.

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