Minneapolis is the latest U.S. city to withdraw from the running to host games in the men’s 2026 FIFA World Cup, citing unacceptable demands from soccer’s international governing body.
The announcement Thursday came a day before the U.S., Canada and Mexico are set to submit a formal bid for the soccer tournament, which is held every four years.
“After much discussion and several attempts to work within the parameters prescribed by FIFA, we chose not to continue forward in the bid process,” the Minneapolis Bid Committee said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the inability to negotiate the terms of the various bid agreements did not provide our partners, and our community, with sufficient protections from future liability and unforeseen changes in commitments.”
Before pulling out, Minneapolis was one of 18 cities in the U.S. in the running to host matches in the summer of 2026. Had the city been selected, it would have hosted games at U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota United’s Allianz Field, which is under construction in St. Paul, isn’t large enough to host the games.
Chicago and Vancouver have also pulled out of the process this week, referring to failed negotiations with FIFA.
Behind the Summer Olympics, 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.
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.
Because of the United States’ infrastructure, abundance of large stadiums and success in hosting the 1994 World Cup, the U.S., Mexico and Canada had been seen as heavy favorites to host the event. The other nation bidding for the tournament is Morocco. But the North American bid has been cast in doubt in recent months, partly because of rising anti-American sentiment that could favor Morocco.
The Minneapolis Bid Committee said in its statement that concerns about liability were the main problem in negotiations with FIFA.
“Specifically, we were requesting flexibility on the financial liability caps and/or stronger estimates on anticipated costs associated with the events,” the committee said in a statement.
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, which will be decided in an open vote by the 211 member nations.
FIFA’s demands on host cities include a series of government guarantees, one of them “assuming liability for safety and security incidents.” A spokeswoman for Meet Minneapolis did not immediately respond to questions about what the disagreement over liability was.
Minneapolis remains in contention to be a “team base camp” where a national team would stay in a hotel and train as long as they’re in the tournament.
The U.S. cities still in contention are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York or New Jersey, area Orlando, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C.