FIFA, the international soccer governing body, unveiled the host cities for the 2026 World Cup on Thursday, with 11 U.S. towns making the cut, including underdog bid Kansas City.
The men’s international soccer tournament, the world’s largest athletic event, will be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada in 16 locations in 2026. Five cities in Canada and Mexico will host 20 games, with most of the tournament in the United States, with 11 cities hosting 60 games, including the final.
FIFA announced the selection of host cities in three regions: West, Central, and East. In the Central area, Kansas City, the self-proclaimed “Soccer Capital of America,” defeated competitors such as Denver and Edmonton, Canada. Kansas City and Major League Soccer (MLS) team Sporting KC officials welcomed the successful end of an intensive lobbying effort.
The World Cup will bring employment to our citizens, produce hundreds of millions of dollars for our community, and demonstrate on a worldwide platform. In Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said that Kansas City is the soccer capital of America.
The World Cup will bring unparalleled tourist and economic activity to the town and a chance to promote the city worldwide. “We are thrilled to welcome the world to Kansas City for the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” stated Cliff Illig, owner of Sporting KC.
According to Gareth Wheeler, a Canadian soccer analyst, Kansas City was the only genuine surprise among the host cities. He described it as a smaller market but one with excellent soccer support. He expressed disappointment that Edmonton was not chosen, speculating that geography certainly worked against the city.
The choice of Kansas City was likewise regarded as surprising by James Wagner of The New York Times. Others claimed that the choice came as no surprise to anyone who had been “paying attention” to soccer, pointing out that the city already has a favourite MLS team.
According to The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri, revealed plans in October 2021 to build a riverside arena for the National Women’s Soccer League. It was the first soccer stadium in the United States created for a women’s club. The stadium will open in 2024.
The FIFA World Cup matches, on the other hand, will be staged at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs.
In addition to Kansas City, FIFA has recognised candidate cities in the Central area to host the World Cup. Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Monterrey, Mexico City, and Mexico.
Miami, Boston, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Toronto, Canada, were chosen as host cities in the Eastern region. Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco Bay Area cut in the Western area, along with Vancouver, Canada, and Guadalajara, Mexico.
Initially, the list of prospective cities included 34 cities in the United States, three in Mexico, and seven in Canada. Before making the final decision, the field was whittled down to 17 cities in the United States and three locations in Canada and Mexico.
Aside from Denver and Edmonton, other final candidate cities that did not get hosting bids were Nashville, Cincinnati, Orlando, and a combined bid from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
The next men’s World Cup will begin in November in Qatar. The event was held in the United States in 1994 and in Mexico in 1970 and 1986. In 2026, Canada will host the event for the first time.
Although a single country typically holds the World Cup, the 2026 edition will not be the first to have multiple host countries. Since Japan and South Korea hosted the event together in 2002. The 2026 tournament, on the other hand, will include a larger field of 48 participant countries, up from the current number of 32.