Tuesday marked the first step in Atlanta United's Mercedes-Benz Stadium possibly serving as an Official Host City for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. It's one of 49 stadiums in 44 cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico approached by the United Bid Committee Tuesday.
After cities declare official interest, the United Bid Committee will review the submissions and intends to issue a shortlist of cities by late September. The Bid Committee will then meet with those organizations and narrow that list down to 20-25 venues in its final bid to FIFA in early 2018.
If selected to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, subject to FIFA’s determination, it is anticipated that at least 12 locations could ultimately serve as Official Host Cities. If a city is not selected to host matches, they could be selected as the location for the International Broadcast Center, host Team Base Camps or host major events such as the Preliminary or Final Draw.
The news comes after Atlanta United Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra was appointed to the United Bid Committee's Board of Directors just weeks ago. The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first tournament with the expanded 48-team format and will require world-class facilities and infrastructure. The United States, Mexico and Canada are uniquely suited to accommodate FIFA’s high-level standards for hosting the renowned global tournament.
“The Host Cities included in our bid will be critical to its success — not only because of their facilities and ability to stage major events, but because they are committed to further developing the sport of soccer by harnessing the impact of hosting a FIFA World Cup — and looking beyond the game itself to make a positive contribution to our communities and the world,” said United Bid Committee Executive Director John Kristick. “We have had a great response so far and we’re looking forward to working closely with each city and determining the best venues for our official bid that we’ll submit next year.”
The 49 stadiums represent a wide spectrum of facilities, including stadiums for soccer and football as well as domed and retractable roof stadiums. All venues are required to have at least 40,000 seats for group stage matches, and a capacity of at least 80,000 to be considered for the Opening Match and the Final.
Municipal leaders in each city have been asked to provide information about each city’s transportation infrastructure, past experience hosting major sporting and cultural events, available accommodations, environmental protection initiatives, potential venues and more. In addition to a stadium capable of hosting international soccer, each city has to propose top international-level training sites and locations for team base camps, and hotels for teams, staff and VIP’s. The Bid Committee will also evaluate cities on their commitment to sustainable event management, aspirations to develop soccer, and the positive social impact they anticipate in the local community and beyond stemming from the event.
FIFA established a deadline of August 11 for Member Associations to express their interest to bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Morocco declared its intention to bid on this date. Both bidders must now submit their proposals for consideration by FIFA, with a decision to be taken at the FIFA Congress next June.