World Cup 2026 host cities: Decision date still up in the air

It's a good thing the 2026 World Cup is still six years away, and the USA has a plethora of modern stadiums on offer.

FIFA hoped to have a decision on the U.S. venues, originally set for the spring 2020 when it  awarded the USA, Canada and Mexico co-hosting rights in 2018, by next spring, but FIFA’s chief tournaments and events officer, Colin Smith, says that is now up in the air because of delays caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Obviously, now we have had to delay that,” Smith said on a media conference call on Monday. “It is very difficult to give a final date because we don’t know when the start date is.”

The process starts on Tuesday with a virtual workshop with representatives of the 17 U.S. cities under consideration and will continue in later weeks with individual workshops.

The plan was to tour the cities and their stadiums in March and again in November. The March tour was called off when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. When the inspections will take place is dependent on how the pandemic affects the USA in the coming weeks.

“I would say we need a few more weeks yet to see how things develop," added Smith, "and then I would say Q3, beginning of Q4 this year, we would have a better idea as to the inspection visit schedule and then obviously the time needed for the selection.”

Smith did not expect any change from FIFA's original plan to select 10 U.S. cities from the list of 17 cities that committed to FIFA's requirements and were on U.S. Soccer's short list in 2018:

Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington.

Smith would not tip his hand about which cities were favorites or which part of the country might get more venues.

“Nothing is set in stone from our point of view," said Smith. "We want to look at the whole picture."
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