2026 World Cup In USA, Mexico And Canada Is A Cure For The Qatar Winter Blues

The expanded 48 team World Cup has announced its host stadia
12:00, 17 Jun 2022

If there are many doubts and reservations about the choice of venue for this year’s men’s football World Cup in Qatar for all manner of reasons, the same can certainly not be said of the hugely anticipated 2026 tournament which will take place over the USA, Mexico and Canada. 

The host cities for the debut staging with an expanded draw of 48 teams and also the first over three countries were finally announced this week after arguably the most competitive tendering process ever seen in the finals competition, with ultimately 16 stadiums selected over the three countries. 

And while the extravaganza promises to be the mother of all World Cup parties and a magnet for fans from around the world in stark contrast to Qatar, alongside the winners and relieved cities there was also controversy and acute disappointment from some of those that have missed out.

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The accepted wisdom was that the split would be 10/3/3, with the USA getting the huge lion’s share of games, and Canada and Mexico getting three venues apiece. But Edmonton north of the border has been overlooked, and with Kansas City and Boston scraping in that took America’s total to 11, with three south of the border and just Toronto and Vancouver representing Canada. 

The full list of cities officially selected in the U.S. are: New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium); Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium); Dallas (AT&T Stadium); San Francisco Bay Area (Levi's Stadium); Miami (Hard Rock Stadium); Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium); Seattle (Lumen Field); Houston (NRG Stadium); Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field); Kansas City, Missouri (Arrowhead Stadium); and Boston (Gillette Stadium). 

And in Mexico and Canada they are: Guadalajara (Estadio Akron), Monterrey (Estadio BBVA Bancomer), Mexico City (Estadio Azteca), Toronto (BMO Field) and Vancouver (BC Place). 

The Azteca Stadium in Mexico City becomes the first venue to have staged three World Cups after hosting in both 1970 and 1986, and with the arrival of a whole new series of advanced stadia not a single one of the venues used in the World Cup of 1994 in the USA will be used this time. 

The venue for the 1994 World Cup final, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, was not chosen, with another Los Angeles area venue, the SoFi Stadium, being picked instead. 

The USA venues that missed out on selection were Baltimore/Washington (M&T Bank Stadium); Orlando, Florida (Camping World Stadium); Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium); Nashville, Tennessee (Nissan Stadium); Denver (Empower Field at Mile High); and Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium). 

Florida will no doubt prove a very popular destination for fans and players alike, but with Miami included Orlando was always going to struggle to also be included. The omission of the bid from Baltimore and the capital city Washington DC will be a real blow to the centre of government.

Those cities merged their efforts, with Baltimore set to stage matches, and Washington all geared up to provide much of the accompanying entertainment and activity and fan-fests, but those plans have been shunned by the organisers. 

Cincinnati and Nashville were never among the favourites, while Denver were left wondering if transport infrastructure issues serving the Empower Field, and altitude had cost them dear. 

But for Edmonton in Canada, whose Commonwealth Stadium had hosted 2022 World Cup qualifying matches as an impressive young national team made it to the Qatar tournament in some style, there was devastation at the announcement. 

In effect they had been competing against both Toronto and Vancouver – but also around six USA  cities for the final spot. 

“Obviously we are disappointed,” said Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “But this is part of the process and we put forward a very compelling bid for FIFA to look at.” 

Around 100 of those most closely involved in the bid had gathered in the Alumni Room at Commonwealth Stadium to watch the live TV proceedings from New York – and all primed for a celebration, but instead there were tears. 

What is certain is that for fans not just in the UK but around the world who may be keeping their hands in their pockets for Qatar and opting to watch it on TV, the time to start saving for the next one may be now.  

No concerns over the number of construction workers reportedly killed building the stadia, or disruption to the major leagues with the tournament starting in June, or the multitude of human rights concerns not least over homophobia, or less importantly the public consumption of alcohol. 

Instead a wonderful choice of cities and cultures to experience in a traditional football hotbed of a Mexico, in Canada with its fast-improving side, and the USA with its 11 cities, a nation that truly woke up to the beautiful game in the wake of the 1994 staging.

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