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San Diego out, three Los Angeles venues still in running for 2026 World Cup

Still a long way before it’s a done deal, however.

Los Angeles Galaxy v Real Madrid
The Coliseum is still among candidate venues for the World Cup.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The joint bid committee for the 2026 World Cup announced on Thursday the 41 cities that have formally submitted applications to be considered official bid cities, should the Mexico-USA-Canada bid be awarded the tournament.

The big news is that three cities, including San Diego, are out of the running, as San Diego did not submit an application. This is not altogether surprising, as the initial news that San Diego was in consideration at all was the surprising part. The only stadium of suitable size in the county is Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley, and consensus is that the venue, without a primary tenant now that the NFL’s Chargers have moved to Carson, is a “dump,” and all this nine years before the World Cup.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the Qualcomm Stadium site, assuming it will be demolished for something else between now and 2026, it makes absolute sense San Diego will not be a host city for World Cup games.

On the other hand, there are still three Southern California venues still in the running to host: the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, next to Los Angeles Football Club’s Banc of California Stadium, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and the still mostly theoretical Los Angeles Rams stadium in Inglewood. Another future stadium, probably, Raiders Stadium in Las Vegas, is also in the applicant pool.

So first things first: The 41 cities across the three countries that submitted applications will be whittled down further should the bid be approved by FIFA. The minimum number of host cities is 12, but given the 2026 tournament will be a 48-team field, it seems like there will be more cities able to host. And while not all 41 cities will get to host, many of those that lose out (again, should FIFA award North America the bid) can do auxiliary roles for the tournament.

Now, given that LA is the only metropolitan area to have three separate venues apply, how will that work out? The short answer is we don’t know! Tradition in these situations makes it pretty likely that only one of the venues will ultimately get the nod, but who knows, really. Maybe FIFA/the bid committee will try something different and host one group at two different stadia in the same area? Maybe some kind of cluster set-up will be used instead of the traditional system of a handful of cities scattered around? It’s really hard to say until decisions are made by the bid committee and FIFA actually approves the bid (which, you never know!). Stay tuned.

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