Now that we know that the United States will be hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico, the next drama to unfold will relate to the cities that are chosen to host group and knockout stage games. 23 cities were included in the Bid Book, but only 16 will make the final cut.
We know that three cities in Canada and Mexico will host matches. That means out of the 16 American cities included in the book, 10 will make the final cut. What clues exist to the 10 that could be chosen? Some valuable information can be found in the Bid Evaluation Report submitted by the 2026 Bid Evaluation Task Force to the FIFA Council earlier this month.
There are some positive written words for Miami in the analysis. For example, the 2026 Bid Evaluation Task Force highlights the picturesque nature of Miami.
All of the locations proposed by the bid team … generally appear to be in iconic locations (from the historic centre of Guadalajara to the tropical waterfront of Miami’s Biscayne Bay, from New Jersey’s Liberty State Park to Montreal’s buzzing Quartier des spectacles).
That’s all well and good, but the best way to look at how the Task Force views Miami is to dive into the numbers.
In the process of reviewing the bid, FIFA analyzes different factors, including: Stadiums, Team and Referee Facilities, Accommodation, Transport, IT&T network & International Broadcast Centre, FIFA Fan Fests, Organising Costs, Media and Marketing Revenues, and Ticketing and Hospitality Revenues. Of those categories, cities are graded on Stadiums, Accommodation, Transport and FIFA Fan Fests. Each criteria is graded on a five-point scale. By taking a closer look at these grades, we can see which cities FIFA may encourage the United 2026 bid to pick.
Crunching the numbers
So what does this mean for Miami? What it means is that if FIFA has anything to do with it, Miami will be playing a big role in the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Of the 23 cities graded by FIFA, Miami is among the highest-rated cities in North America. Miami is one of only six cities with at least seven categories considered above-average. Additionally, when using FIFA’s formula for grading cities, its weighted average is 4.2 out of 5, the highest score any city received. Only Denver, Houston and Montreal matched it.
Miami excelled in Stadium grading, receiving a 4.3. Only Denver received a higher grade. The recent renovations to Hard Rock Stadium have apparently paid off for owner Stephen Ross and the United 2026 bid. Miami also received a perfect 5.0 in General Accommodation. Being a tourist destination has its advantages in a review like this.
Perhaps the most unexpected score came in Transport. While Miami’s public transportation isn’t an example to the world, it still received a score (3.8) higher than the bid average (3.6). That’s in large part due to Miami International Airport.
Does this mean Miami is a stone-cold lock to host matches in the 2026 FIFA World Cup. No. The Bid Committee still has a large say over what venues will be selected. However, there is reason to believe it would be difficult for United 2026 to exclude Miami without making FIFA less than happy.