The announcement on Thursday that the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will be one of the 16 venues in North America for the 2026 World Cup, returns the Men’s World Cup to the Bay Area for the first time since Stanford Stadium was among the venues in 1994.
The news brought cheers from local officials and the vast regional football fan base that has encouraged Santa Clara University women’s champions twice in the NCAA and the earthquakes in the San Jose Premier League over the years.
“This is a really big deal,” two-time World Cup champion Brandy Chastain, a San Jose native and former Santa Clara player and coach, told SFGate on Thursday. “We are grateful that we are going to show the world why the Bay Area is where the World Cup will be. And we will do again what we did in 1994, which is hosting amazing games and activities that will happen outside the stadium and show the world how beautiful our community is.”
“The Bay Area has a proud tradition of world-class football hosting with the San Jose earthquakes and the praise of the 2016 Copa America Centenario and the 1994 FIFA World Cup,” San Jose Mayor Sam Licardo said last year. “Welcome the world. The 2026 World Cup will be an amazing opportunity for our region.”
FIFA on June 16 began unveiling its plans for a World Cup for men in three countries in 2026 by declaring the host cities the biggest ever football championship. The tournament, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada, will be the first with 48 teams , An increase from the current 32, and will take place in cities across North America.
“This part of the world does not understand what will happen here in 2026,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said at a Manhattan press conference following the announcement broadcast on Thursday afternoon.
The election, 16 cities selected from a list of 22 finalists, was revealed in three regional groups, blocs representing the eastern, central and western regions.
The winning contenders included legendary football venues like Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, which hosted the two World Cup finals. They included metropolitan areas with previous experience in hosting the World Cup like Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and Guadalajara, Mexico. They included new immigrants like Toronto, Philadelphia, Miami and Seattle. They included smaller cities like Kansas City, Mo.
- East: Toronto (BMO Field); Boston (Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts); Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field); Miami (Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida); And New York / New Jersey (Matlife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey).
- Center: Kansas City, Mo. (Arrow Stadium); Dallas (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas); Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium); Houston (NRG Stadium); Monterey, Mexico (BBVA Stadium, Guadeloupe); Mexico City (Estadio Azteca).
- West: Vancouver (BC Place); Seattle (Lumen Field); San Francisco (Lewis Stadium, Santa Clara, California); Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California); And Guadalajara, Mexico (Akron Stadium, Zapopan).
The Rose Ball in Pasadena, California – which hosted the 1994 final, the only time the World Cup has been held in the United States – has been left out. But so too was a combined proposal that represented Baltimore Washington, D.C., meaning the United States capital would not play a role in the country’s largest sporting event in 2026.
“It was a very difficult choice,” said Colin Smith, FIFA’s chief tournament and events director. (Infantino said a fan festival will be held at the National Mall in Washington.)
Most of the 80 World Cup matches will be played in the United States, following an agreement reached by the three host federations when they offered to host the tournament in 2017 and approved by FIFA. Of the 16 cities selected, 11 were in the United States, three in Mexico and two Vancouver and Toronto – Canada – Mexico will become the first country to host the World Cup three times, while Canada will do so for the first time.
Infantino said some of the latest decisions regarding host cities were not made until Thursday. But there are still many options to do, like organizing the game board, allocating cities that will host the most important games and understanding how to reduce travel and how to avoid the worst heat of summer in cities where the stadium has no roof.
“In an area as large as North America, we need to take special care of that, to make sure teams play in clusters that the fans don’t have to travel insane distances and so do the teams,” said Infantino. “When we look at it, we have to take into account the weather conditions, the stadiums, the ones that have a roof and the ones that are closed and might be able to play earlier in the afternoon and the ones where you have to play in the evening.”
Victor Montaliani, president of Concave, the governing body for football in North and Central America and the Caribbean, said the process of deciding which city would host the World Cup final – and Marquise games like the opening or those in the knockout stages – had not yet begun. He said the stadium’s ability for the final would be the main factor for many.
When asked about specific sites, like Mexico City or the New York area, as hosts for the finals, Infantino was a coward. He joked, “New York is definitely a candidate, and so are the other 15 cities.”
Because many of the stadiums selected were built for NFL teams, they have a large capacity. But to accommodate a wider soccer field in a narrower space designated for soccer, Smith said several seats at certain “pinch points” of some stadiums need to be removed. But he insisted it was “has no material effect on capacity”.
He added later, “The ’94 World Cup holds the current attendance record and it is going to be kept out of the water given the capabilities we have in these stadiums.”
When asked when and where the 2026 World Cup final will be held, FIFA President Gianni Infantino stood up and said, “We will take our time with the decision.” The 16 cities have been selected, and are already ready to push for the right to host the final.
Interesting: Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, said some of the latest decisions regarding host cities were not made until Thursday. The decisions, he said, were made “to ensure fans do not have to travel too far, to ensure everyone has a fantastic experience.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey Murphy said that the understanding of the New Jersey / New Jersey team was that FIFA would not disclose the package of games allocated to each stadium, including the finals, until next year.
San Jose Inside contributed to this article. Copyright, The New York Times.
Santa Clara among 16 Cities Announced as Hosts for 2026 World Cup Source link Santa Clara among 16 Cities Announced as Hosts for 2026 World Cup