The Atlanta Stadium was among the locations visited by FIFA on the first half of its operational tour of 2026 World Cup venues ©Getty Images

A FIFA delegation has concluded its first leg of operational visits to host venues for the 2026 men's World Cup.

Sixteen cities have been chosen to stage matches at the expanded 48-team tournament, the first to be held in three countries across Canada, the United States and Mexico.

The first leg of visits covered eight host cities, seven in the US and Toronto in Canada.

Officials also visited Miami, Houston, Atlanta, Kansas City, Boston, New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia to meet with organisers in each city, and discuss operational elements including transport, stadium operations, hospitality and pitch management.

The group watched a Major League Soccer match at the Atlanta Stadium and a National Football League match at the Kansas City Stadium.

FIFA's chief operating officer for the World Cup Heimo Schirgi said he had been encouraged by the visits.

"The wealth of sport and entertainment event organisation experience across North America is being put to excellent use to make the 2026 edition the best FIFA World Cup ever," he said.

"What stands out from the past 10 days is that not only is the expertise there, but also the commitment and the excitement.

"We thank these eight cities for being incredible hosts and partners to our team, and we can’t wait to see them welcoming the world in three years’ time.

"With the qualifiers having already started in South America, and soon to kick off in Asia and Africa, the tournament feels like it’s coming to life, and we’re all excited that plans are being developed and finalised with our host city colleagues."

A second leg of operation visits covering the three remaining American host cities, three venues in Mexico and two in Canada is due to start in late October.