The United States will be part of an historic World Cup soccer tournament in 2026, hosting an expanded-version of the event, but the city of Chicago was not among the 11 American host cities selected by FIFA on Thursday.
The tournament, which will feature 48 teams, will contest games in Canada, the United States and Mexico, marking the first time that three different countries have taken on the hosting role.
Despite hosting games, including the opening contest, in the 1994 World Cup, the city of Chicago was not one of the 11 selected, and there were a few different reasons why.
For starters, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel withdrew the city's bid for the tournament when the United States was selected as a host country in 2018, saying that FIFA wanted a “blank check” for costs associated with the event.
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“The guys from international soccer wanted us to underwrite their sporting event,” he said. “I am not going to write a company a blank check that can fleece the taxpayers.”
There had been some concerns that Soldier Field, which can hold just over 61,000 fans, would be too small to host the World Cup. The stadium was the smallest of the more than two dozen venues that had originally been in the running to host games.
In fact, only one city in the Midwest was chosen to host games, as Kansas City was given the honor.
Here are the 11 U.S. cities that will host World Cup games in 2026:
Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle
Five other cities in Mexico and Canada will also host games:
Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Toronto, Vancouver
The 2026 World Cup will be the first with an expanded field, with 48 teams competing for the most prestigious prize in international soccer. Normally, teams are given an automatic berth in the tournament if they are hosting the event, but with the trio of countries hosting, that will not be the case, according to FIFA.
The U.S., Canada and Mexico all qualified for the 2022 World Cup, which will take place this fall in Qatar. The tournament normally takes place in the summer, but was moved to November and December because of the scorching-hot conditions that occur in Qatar during the summer months.