Los Angeles - The list of potential host cities to take part in the joint USA-Canada-Mexico 2026 World Cup bid has been whittled down to 32 after nine more potential venues were ruled out, a statement said Wednesday.
The joint North American bid is seen as the favorite for 2026, with only one other bid - Morocco - so far in the running for the tournament.
A list of 41 potential host cities - in the running to stage matches or host teams - had been circulated last month by organisers.
That number was trimmed down to 32 after nine cities including Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Antonio and New Orleans were excluded from consideration.
Of the 32 cities left on the long list, 25 are in the United States, four are in Canada and three are in Mexico.
"As we move to the next stage of the bid process, we're even more confident we have everything needed to deliver the largest, most compelling FIFA World Cup in history and help accelerate the growth of soccer across North America and around the world," bid chairman Sunil Gulati said in a statement.
"We have more than double the number of cities required to stage matches in 2026. We have a vision for growing the game and engaging fans as never before."
The US-Mexico-Canada World Cup bid will submit between 20-25 venues in its final bid to FIFA, with 12 locations likely to be chosen as host cities for the tournament, which will be the first to use FIFA's expanded 48-team format.
Cities not hosting games could be chosen as other venues needed for the tournament, such as team base camps.
Bid officials have said 60 of the tournament's matches would be staged in the United States, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games each.
The United States will host all knockout games from the quarter-finals onwards.
Stadiums under consideration in the United States include several venues used in the 1994 World Cup, including the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
Other venues include the new Los Angeles Stadium, and the 105 000-capacity AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys.