CINCINNATI – The Queen City has survived the first cut and is one of 32 North American cities vying to become an Official Host City for the men’s 2026 FIFA World Cup.
That’s a testament to the Tri-State soccer fans who have turned out in record numbers to watch FC Cincinnati and the U.S. Women’s National Team the past two years, according to FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding.
“To be one of 32 cities selected across North America is truly a testament to the renaissance that is occurring in Greater Cincinnati," Berding said. "We are proud that FC Cincinnati and our collaboration with our fans, our community and business partners have unleashed this soccer movement and put Cincinnati on the national and global soccer stage.”
At least 12 cities across the U.S., Canada and Mexico will be selected as venues for games, according to the United Bid Committee. The three countries are expected to host the first men’s World Cup in North America since 1994.
As many as eight or nine American cities could be chosen to host games with Mexico and Canada dividing the rest. Other cities could play a role by hosting teams.
Cincinnati is offering Paul Brown Stadium as a World Cup site, but its capacity of 65,515 makes it smaller than other U.S. stadiums. PBS could host a group stage match, but it is not big enough to host the opener or the final. Neither Nippert Stadium nor the soccer stadium envisioned for FC Cincinnati would be considered for the World Cup.
Indianapolis, Cleveland and Pittsburgh were among the cities that did not make the cut.
The selection process takes into account city profile, stadium and support facilities and services, the United Bid Committee said. The committee will also consider how "each city could contribute to a united hosting strategy for the 2026 FIFA World Cup including their contribution to the sport's development and the United Bid’s vision – not only during the tournament, but in the eight-year build up and the social, economic, and environmental legacy."
Morocco made the only other bid for the 2026 games. The FIFA Congress will choose next June.
Representatives from the 32 potential host cities will travel to Houston, Texas, during the week of Nov. 13 for a working session with the committee team.