KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Some 41 cities, proposing 44 stadia, want to host matches at the 2026 World Cup if the finals are won by a three-way cohost bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The bid from the most powerful members of the central and north American region (CONCACAF) is odds-on favourite to succeed despite an expression of interest from Morocco in staging the expanded 48-team tournament.

An early agreement because the three federations decided the US would host 60 of the 80 matches (including all matches from the quarter-finals onwards) with 10 each in Canada and Mexico.

Hence the batch of interested cities comprises 32 in the US, six in Canada and three in Mexico. The Mexican trio include the Estadio Azteca which hosted the World Cup Final in both 1970 and 1986.

In August bid officials sought information from 44 cities (49 stadia). Green Bay (Wisconsin), San Diego and Calgary withdrew while officials have discounted Toronto’s Rogers Centre and Stade Saputo in Montreal though they remain on the list.

The list will be cut back to 20 or 25 before being formally submitted for consideration by world federation FIFA by next March 16. Eventually a maximum of 12 city venues will be nominated though others may be included for training and administrative facilities.

Development key

John Kristick, executive director for the United Bid Committee, said: “The host cities included in our bid will be critical to its success — not only because of their facilities and ability to stage major events but because they are committed to developing the sport by harnessing the impact of hosting a FIFA World Cup.

“We have had a great response and we’re looking forward to working closely with each city and determining the best venues for our official bid that we’ll submit next year.”

The 2010 World Cup vote scandal prompted FIFA to change the decision process. The FIFA Council will consider bids and recommended up to three for a vote by the federation’s 200-plus members at annual congress. The earliest date at which FIFA Congress could take a decision would be next June.

Senior bid trio officials include Kristick, Jim Brown (technical operations), Peter Montopoli (Canada Soccer general secretary) and Mexico’s Yon De Luisa (a Televisa vice-president).

Directors include Sunil Gulati (US, chairman), Steven Reed (Canada), Montopoli (Canada), Decio De Maria (Mexico), Guillermo Cantu (Mexico), Carlos Cordeiro), Donna Shalala, Dan Flynn, Don Garber, Carlos Bocanegra, Julie Foudy, Ed Foster-Simeon (all US) and Victor Montagliani (Canada, CONCACAF president).

Potential host city/venues:

United States (32 cities and 35 stadia): Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas (Cotton Bowl and Arlington), Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (Coliseum, Hollywood Park and Rose Bowl), Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Francisco/San Jose, Seattle, Tampa, Washington.

Canada (six cities): Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver.

Mexico (three cities): Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey.