After months of waiting, Philadelphians gathered at LOVE Park on June 16 waiting for FIFA to reveal the cities chosen to host the 2026 World Cup matches, praying for Philadelphia to be announced. Cheers and confetti filled the air when Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field was announced as the site for 2026 World Cup matches, among 15 other Mexican, Canadian, and American cities. The United States, Mexico, and Canada will be sharing the stage, with three cities in Mexico, two in Canada, and 11 in the US. According to the New York Times, to reduce travel, all the teams will be grouped into three regional groups: East, Central, and West.
The groups will look like this:
EAST: Toronto (BMO Field); Boston (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough); Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field); Miami (Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens); and New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium).
CENTRAL: Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium); Dallas (AT&T Stadium); Atlanta (Mercedes Benz Stadium); Houston (NRG Stadium); Monterrey, Mexico (Estadio BBVA); Mexico City (Estadio Azteca).
WEST: Vancouver (BC Place); Seattle (Lumen Field); San Francisco (Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara); Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium, Inglewood); and Guadalajara, Mexico (Estadio Akron).
This is the first World Cup since 2002 to be hosted by more than one country, and the first-ever to be hosted by more than two. Mexico will become the first country to host or co-host a World Cup three times, having already hosted in 1970 and 1986. This will be the United States’ second time hosting, and Canada’s first time ever. The 2026 World Cup will also be the first one with an expansion to 48 teams. There will be 16 groups of three teams, so in total, 80 games will be played.
Let’s talk about how the host bidding works. The soccer world is separated into six federations; CONCACAF (North America), CONMEBOL (South America), UEFA (Europe & Russia), AFC (Asia), CAF(Africa), and OFC (Oceania). Since Russia (UEFA) hosted the 2018 World Cup, it disqualifies them from bidding for the upcoming World Cup, similar to Qatar (AFC) since they are hosting the 2022 World Cup. This will leave the remaining four federations to be able to bid for the 2026 World Cup. UEFA will once again be able to bid starting for the 2030 World Cup. The only way that a bid from a recent host will be accepted is if a bid from all other federations or countries doesn’t meet the requirements.
The top two bids for the 2026 World Cup were the United Bid and Morocco’s bid. The United States, Mexico, and Canada had all publicly announced their separate bids but announced their joint bid in 2017. The United bid won at the 68th FIFA Congress in 2018.
Twelve out of the 16 cities selected are already home to an MLS franchise. The only cities chosen without an MLS team are San Francisco and the three Mexican cities. Most of the games will most likely not be played in an MLS stadium but will be played at the city’s NFL stadium. However, the two Canadian cities will host the games in their respective MLS stadiums. Although not all the matches are played in MLS stadiums, just being a host city is an amazing opportunity for growth, development, and tourism. It gives massive boosts to local hotels, restaurants, and infrastructure in each city.
“The FIFA World Cup 2026 will be an absolute milestone in football history and all the cities we have visited are fully aware of it. We would like to thank them all for their tremendous work, commitment, and passion as they would not only like to offer an amazing event for the whole world but also leave a fond legacy far beyond 2026,” said Victor Montagliani, the president of CONCACAF.
The 2026 World Cup is expected to be a game-changing event, with the cities hoping to leave a legacy in the football world and beyond.