HOUSTON – Soccer fans in Houston may not have to travel far to see the 2026 World Cup.
FIFA awarded the 2026 World Cup to the united bid of 23 North American cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The winning bid means 60 of the tournament’s games will be held in the U.S., with Canada and Mexico getting 10 each.
Houston, along with Dallas, are among the potential host cities apart of the winning bid.
Mayor Sylvester Turner could hardly contain his excitement when he heard the news.
"Five games over 30 days, can you imagine the number of people converging on the city of Houston, the amount of dollars, just the publicity alone," said Mayor Sylvester Turner.
The Houston Dynamo President said having the World Cup in Houston could be one of the biggest things that ever happened to the city.
We've got a lot of work to do, but lets keep our fingers crossed it goes our way," said Chris Canetti.
The World Cup will return to North America for the first time since 1994.
The United Bid Committee calls it “the most comprehensive and far-reaching hosting strategy ever developed for a mega-sporting event.”
Nineteen other U.S. cities are listed in the united bid, along with three Canadian cities and three in Mexico.
FIFA still has to select 16 host cities from the group of 23. See a list of all the proposed host cities at the bottom of this story.
“Congratulations to the soccer federations of the United States, Canada and Mexico for their hard work and successful bid strategy. We are grateful that our facilities and excellent infrastructure allowed us to be a part of that bid. NRG Park has successfully hosted two Super Bowls and two NCAA Men’s Final Fours, and it will be a great venue for the World Cup matches. Bring on the games," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said.
Houston has hosted several international games over the last few years including Manchester United versus Manchester City last summer at NRG Stadium.
“Soccer is the world’s game and we are excited to show the world what Houston is all about. Houston is progressive,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “It’s a great sports town, but it also uniquely reflects the world itself. Our city is the most ethnically diverse in the United States, thanks in part to residents from countries that worship soccer.”
AT&T Stadium also hosted the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup along with several other high-profile international matches.
The United Bid Committee boasts the fact that the three North American countries would not need to build new stadiums to host the World Cup. New or recently-renovated were famously left to rot in the weeks after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
2026 will mark the first year of an expanded 48-team World Cup format. There will be 16 groups of three teams, with the top two finishers in each group advancing to a 32-team knockout round. The expanded format was agreed upon in a unanimous vote in January of last year.
Russia is the host country for this year's World Cup. Qatar is set to become the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup in 2022, despite controversy surrounding its hot summers and infrastructure needs.
Full list of host cities listed in “united bid” for 2026 World Cup:
- Kansas City
- Los Angeles
- New York/New Jersey
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Washington, D.C.
- Mexico City