LOS ANGELES: The United States, Mexico and Canada's bid for the 2026 World Cup on Tuesday invited 44 cities across the three nations to declare an interest in staging games at the football extravaganza, a statement said.
A total of 49 stadiums in the candidate cities have been considered for inclusion in the official World Cup bid which will be submitted to FIFA by March 16, 2018.
The joint North American bid is seen as the favourite for the 2026 World Cup, with only one other bid -- Morocco -- so far in the running for the tournament.
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.
The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament using FIFA's expanded 48-team format.
"The Host Cities included in our bid will be critical to its success - not only because of their facilities and ability to stage major events, but because they are committed to further developing the sport of soccer by harnessing the impact of hosting a FIFA World Cup - and looking beyond the game itself to make a positive contribution to our communities and the world," said United Bid Committee Executive Director John Kristick.
"We have had a great response so far and we're looking forward to working closely with each city and determining the best venues for our official bid that we'll submit next year."
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.
Seven cities in Canada are under consideration, including Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Toronto and Vancouver.
Mexico's proposed venues are limited to three stadiums, most notably Mexico City' Estadio Azteca, the stage for the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals.