Philadelphia bids to host 2026 World Cup matches

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Philadelphia bids to host 2026 World Cup matches: Sarah Bloomquist reports on Action News at 4 p.m., June 13, 2018. (WPVI)

The 2026 World Cup is coming to North America and Philadelphia will be pushing hard to host matches, most likely at Lincoln Financial Field.

Larry Needle is the executive director of PHL Sports, a division of the convention and visitors bureau. He says Philadelphia makes sense.

"Just a great history of hosting national and international sporting events," said Needle. "Just in the last few years when you look at the success we've had with the NFL Draft, with the DNC, with the Papal visit."

Philadelphia is one of 23 cities on the short list to host. Up to 16 will be selected as venues for matches.

"There would be tens of thousands of international visitors that would be coming into the city, enjoying everything we have to offer," said Needle. "Just awesome. I remember flashback to 94 World Cup. That had a huge impact on me."

Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya was just a kid when the U.S last hosted the World Cup. He went on to play in all four games for the US National Team in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"I am just excited. I was thrilled to hear the news. It's awesome. I couldn't believe it at first," said Bedoya. "A lot of hard work behind the scenes. We got it and hopefully Philly can be a host city. I am so excited. It's great for the game."

University of Delaware Men's Soccer Coach Ian Hennessey was helping out at this youth soccer event in Newark Wednesday.

Like others who watch the sport closely, he can see soccer growing even more in popularity with the World Cup heading to Philly.

"It's the global game and it's growing so large in the United States," said Hennessey. "We have young kids now who are as comfortable talking about Messi and Ronaldo as LeBron and other big athletes."

And talk about timing, the World Cup games here in the United States will coincide with the 250th anniversary of the United States.

A fitting tribute to have games played in the city where the nation began.

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