Manchester, Nottingham and Portsmouth have been shortlisted to become England's first City of Football.
The three cities were selected from 22 bids because of their commitment to get more people playing the sport at grassroots level.
Those shortlisted must now develop full proposals over the summer.
The winning city will be revealed by Sport England in the autumn and will receive £1.6m National Lottery funding to run a two-year pilot programme.
Kelly Simmons, the Football Association's Director of National Game and Women's Football, said: "World Cup fever is about to sweep the nation, and we want to ensure that it will inspire players of all ages and abilities to get out and play football regularly in a way that suits them.
"Despite the growth in children's football we are facing challenges retaining and growing the number of adult players wanting to play on a weekly basis.
"The City of Football is an opportunity for everyone involved in football to come together to test new ways of opening up football opportunities for everyone."