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Denver loses bid for 2026 World Cup

FIFA announced the 16 host cities Thursday afternoon — and Denver was not among them.

DENVER — Denver has lost its bid to be a host city for the 2026 World Cup

The Mile High City was among 23 cities across the U.S., Mexico and Canada that submitted bids to host games in the 2026 tournament. FIFA announced the 16 host cities Thursday afternoon -- 11 in the United States, three in Mexico and two in Canada.

"I think there just may have been some factors that we couldn’t control that may have played a bigger factor in all of this," Denver Sports Commission Executive Director Matthew Payne said. "We talked about that geographic location and where we’re at, FIFA wanting to be closer to other cities, maybe that played a factor in this. Maybe the elevation or the altitude. We’re not real sure."

The altitude argument doesn’t really hold up when we look at other cities that were chosen. Mexico City will host World Cup games at an altitude of more than 7,300 feet above sea level. Guadalajara’s elevation is very similar to Denver’s. Both of those cities were picked today.

Full list of host cities: 

  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Dallas
  • Atlanta
  • Houston
  • Monterey, Mexico
  • Mexico City
  • Toronto
  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Miami
  • New York/New Jersey

RELATED: Here are the 23 venues bidding to host World Cup matches in 2026

Credit: 9NEWS

Denver had been working on the bid to host World Cup games since 2018. FIFA executives visited Denver in October 2021 for a site tour to see the city and stadium. The games would have been played at Empower Field at Mile High, the only stadium in Denver large enough to host World Cup games.

9NEWS asked Payne whether the uncertainty around the future of Empower Field may have played a role, with the new Broncos ownership.

"Being here today, maybe it played a factor, some uncertainty. But all I can tell you is that we’re super excited about the new ownership for the Broncos. I know the Broncos are, I know this city is," he said. "I’m not sure that played a role in it."

RELATED: FIFA visits Denver as city bids to host 2026 World Cup games

The 16 cities will host a total of 48 teams and 80 matches under the new expanded format, marking the largest FIFA World Cup in history.

FIFA announced which cities were chosen Thursday but did not announce how many games they will host or which teams will play there. Those announcements will come later.

The next World Cup tournament will be held Nov. 21 to Dec. 17, 2022, in Qatar. 


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