While it was announced that North America will host the 2026 World Cup in connection with Canada and Mexico, Glendale will not be hosting any games when the tournament begins.
The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA), which represented Phoenix and Glendale when it was originally part of the bid, announced earlier this year they were pulling out of the bid to host games at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“After much deliberation, representatives of Phoenix, Glendale and the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority elected to remove Phoenix from consideration as a 2026 FIFA World Cup host city,” AZSTA President Tom Sadler said. “The 2026 FIFA World Cup is more than eight years away. We believe that committing ourselves to a World Cup bid that far in advance would be irresponsible, as FIFA was not able to provide specific details on major unknowns that could result in a major financial burden to our cities.”
A Glendale spokesperson said, “The stadium (AZSTA) took the lead and we participated with them and concur with them (on the decision to pull out of the bid.”
Before pulling out, Glendale was one of 18 cities in the U.S. in the running to host matches during the 2026 World Cup. Had the city been selected, it would have hosted games at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The 2026 tournament will be the largest ever, with an expanded field of 48 teams instead of the traditional 32, so cities might have hosted as many as six matches.
FIFA has been plagued by corruption, particularly when it comes to awarding World Cup bids, but the organization has a new process for selecting where World Cups are played. Still, numerous questions remained among bidding nations.
Some of the required FIFA demands include government guarantees, such as “assuming liability for safety and security incidents.”
Minnesota, Chicago and Vancouver also pulled their support for the bid, all citing financial expectations of FIFA as part of the issues.
The World Cup is one of the best-attended events for spectators after the Summer Olympics, and is one of the top televised events. The men’s World Cup is the best-attended sports event in the world, and the final in Brazil in 2014 attracted a television audience about 10 times the size of a Super Bowl’s typical audience.
While AZSTA announced it was not part of the bid, the organization still put full support behind the North America bid.
“This decision should not be interpreted as a lack of confidence that the Valley could execute the event or a lack of interest in soccer; the Valley has a long history of successfully hosting international tournaments, including Copa America and CONCACAF Gold Cup, and we will continue to vigorously pursue those and other soccer competitions,” Sadler said.
Now that North America has been awarded the World Cup, the cities in the U.S that are rumored to host games include Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Jose, Seattle and Washington (FedEx Field). Eleven of those locations likely will be chosen, with a decision two years away.
Other games are expected to be hosted in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City in Mexico, while Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton are the Canadian cities that have been proposed.