No matter what happens surrounding it, the World Cup in soccer is one of the most popular sporting events on Earth. The quadrennial tournament is so big that FIFA scandals, accusations of slave labor, and protests from citizens of the host countries do little, if anything, to derail its popularity.
Russia is slated to host the 2018 tournament, followed by Qatar’s groundbreaking and controversial turn in 2022. The 2026 tournament is up for grabs, and the United States is teaming with Canada and Mexico for a joint bid. The infrastructure all three countries already have in place could make for a winning bid.
“We’re not in a situation where we need to build anything. We don’t need to build stadiums,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati told media. “We need to build one thing: the sport. And that’s what our bid is about.”
The last, and only, time the United States hosted the tournament was 1994. Mexico hosted in 1970 and 1986, and Canada has never hosted the men’s tournament. The U.S. Soccer Federation identified 37 stadiums in 34 cities, many of them football stadiums, as potential game sites should the bid be successful. While the United States has its fair share of large stadiums, not all of them make the cut as potential game sites. If the World Cup comes to the United States in 2026, these are the 16 cities where you’re most likely to see games played, ranked by stadium seating capacity.
- Stadium: Soldier Field
- Seating capacity: 61,500
Any World Cup that comes to the United States in the future is likely to see Chicago host at least one game. It’s a world-renowned city that is no stranger to welcoming foreign visitors. Though the grass field has been prone to problems in the past, that likely wouldn’t prevent Soldier Field from hosting. The U.S. Soccer Federation is headquartered in Chicago, so it’s almost a given it would do anything to play a game in its own backyard.
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