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Pittsburgh out of running to host 2026 FIFA World Cup

| Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, 3:54 p.m.
Manchester City midfielder Jesus Navas (left) jumps for the ball with AC Milan midfielder Bryan Cristante as they play at Heinz Field during an International Champions Cup game Sunday, July 27, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Stephanie Strasburg | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Manchester City midfielder Jesus Navas (left) jumps for the ball with AC Milan midfielder Bryan Cristante as they play at Heinz Field during an International Champions Cup game Sunday, July 27, 2014, at Heinz Field.
Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan makes a save against Mexico during first-half FIFA World Cup qualifying soccer action in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Friday, March 25, 2016.
Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan makes a save against Mexico during first-half FIFA World Cup qualifying soccer action in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Friday, March 25, 2016.

The world's most-watched sporting event won't be coming to Pittsburgh any time soon.

Pittsburgh was one of nine cities eliminated Wednesday as a potential host site for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in a joint bid by the United States, Mexico and Canada. The bid's committee released a list of 32 finalist cities — 25 in the U.S., three in Mexico and four in Canada — eliminating nine that responded to the committee's initial invitation for applicants.

Factors ranging from stadium size to support facilities (practice sites, hotels, etc.) to public services were weighed in the bid process. While no specifics were provided as to why cities were eliminated, the committee left the door open for those nine cities to be a part of the bid in other ways, including serving as team base camps or hosting pre-tournament exhibitions.

“While not every city will move forward as a potential host city, we were so impressed by all the applicants that we will continue to engage with all the cities as part of our hosting strategy, and we will welcome the opportunity to work with FIFA to further expand our hosting concept to ensure the broadest possible impact for this spectacular event,” United Bid Committee Executive Director John Kristick said in the statement accompanying the list of selected cities.

The other cities eliminated Wednesday were Birmingham, Ala.; Cleveland; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; New Orleans; Ottawa, Ontario; Regina, Saskatchewan; and San Antonio.

Among the 25 U.S. cities to make the cut were all nine cities/metropolitan areas that hosted matches in the 1994 World Cup. The United Bid Committee has said a minimum of 12 cities would host games in the tournament, which will be the first with an expanded field of 48 teams.

The North American bid is considered the favorite to be awarded the 2026 tournament by FIFA next year. Morocco is the only other nation to submit a formal bid.

Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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