Race is on: Bid processes taking shape for 2026, 2030 and even 2038 World Cups
Thirty-two cities across USA, Canada and Mexico have been shortlisted to host matches at the 2026 Fifa World Cup if the joint bid of the three North American countries is successful.
The United Bid Committee launched the host city selection process in August, sending requests for information (RFIs) to 44 cities, with 41 subsequently submitting applications last month and the list has now been whittled down to 32 following a "comprehensive review of the communities and facilities."
There are 25 cities from USA, four from Canada and three from Mexico on the shortlist.
Sunil Gulati, chairman of the United Bid Committee, said: “As we move to the next stage of the bid process, we’re even more confident we have everything needed to deliver the largest, most compelling Fifa World Cup in history and help accelerate the growth of soccer across North America and around the world.
“Our biggest challenge will be finding ways to honour the enthusiasm of all the people across Canada, Mexico and the United States through the development of our united hosting concept.”
It is envisaged that 20 to 25 cities will be included in the final bid to be submitted to Fifa, by 16 March, 2018, and that if the bid is successful, at least 12 will ultimately serve as official host cities.
The North American bid faces competition from Morocco, with the host to be decided at the Fifa Congress in Moscow on 13 June 2018, on the eve of the opening match of next year’s tournament in Russia.
The 25 US cities on the list are Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Boston, Nashville, Charlotte, New York/New Jersey, Cincinnati, Orlando, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City, Detroit, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Kansas City, Tampa, Las Vegas, Washington DC and Los Angeles.
The candidates from Canada are Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, while the Mexican contenders remain Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.
The cities to have missed the latest cut are Birmingham, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and San Antonio in USA and Regina and Ottawa in Canada.
Meanwhile, a three-way bid for the World Cup in 2030 is taking shape, after the presidents of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay met in Buenos Aires to officially announce their plans, even though the bidding process does not open for some years.
The 2030 World Cup will mark 100 years since the inaugural tournament in Uruguay, which the hosts won, beating Argentina in the final.
Mauricio Macri, president of Argentina, said in a joint news conference: "If you give us the opportunity, we will be great hosts. This region deserves to host a World Cup; it’s a passion shared by Uruguayans, Paraguayans and Argentines."
South America last staged the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and a bid for the 2030 tournament could face competition from China and England/the UK.
Even further down the line, Ghana has outlined ambitious plans to bid to stage the World Cup in 2038. The bid would form part of the country's 40-year national development plan, which involves a number of major stadia and transport construction projects.
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was the first to be staged on the African continent.
Indonesia and Thailand have already received government backing for a joint bid to host the 2034 World Cup, where they are likely to face competition from both China and England/the UK if they lose out to the South American bid.