FIFA weighs Philly as possible World Cup 2026 host city

Ten US cities will be selected. Boston, Orlando, and Nashville are some of the other cities being considered.

Katherine Scott Image
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
FIFA weighs Philly as possible World Cup 2026 host city
World Cup 2026 in Philly? It can happen if city officials get their way.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A delegation from FIFA and U.S. Soccer arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday, as Philadelphia vies to bring the World Cup to the city in 2026.

Cheering fans stood along the driving route to the stadium complex and then welcomed the delegation to Lincoln Financial Field.

"This is a huge event- we really love our city. We love Philly. We love the culture. We love the diversity. We love everything about it," said 12-year-old soccer player Madeleine Ferrie of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

Mayor Jim Kenney, Eagles CEO Jeff Lurie, and Eagles President Don Smolenski greeted the delegation at the stadium, which would serve as the prime venue.

RELATED: Philadelphia makes bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup

"As I hope it's clear from our initial meetings today, we couldn't be more enthusiastic and excited about the prospect of hosting the World Cup," Kenney said.

A 24-person delegation is evaluating 17 U.S. cities to host matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will also have sites in Canada and Mexico.

Ten US cities will be selected.

"I think it's a great opportunity to showcase the city, the facilities we have. The mass transit, the hotels, it's a beautiful city," said Ricky John of Center City.

Boston, Orlando, and Nashville are some of the other U.S. cities being considered.

It is unclear what the exact match schedule would be, but every potential host city was asked to be prepared to host five to six matches over a two-week period.

"We have one of the best soccer teams in MLS; we had a fan support team for Philadelphia Union five years before we had a team. The fan support made a team come here. Philly knows how to throw a party," said Matt Ferrie of Blue Bell.

Big name athletes like Julie and Zach Ertz, Carli Lloyd, and Heather Mitts are some of the honorary co-chairs encouraging FIFA to select the City of Brotherly Love.

"It gets the city recognized. Its recognition of who we are, the birthplace of America, to host this worldwide event. It would be a great exposure for everybody, even people that don't watch soccer," said Brian Kraft of Chalfont, Pa.

One of the big messages from organizers is that Philadelphia has hosted a number of large scale, national and international events over the last few decades.

"Whether it's political conventions, papal visits, or an NFL draft, we know how to do this, and we know how to do it well, so I think that's a really big selling point for us as Philadelphia," said Meg Kane of Philadelphia 2026, the City's official FIFA World Cup 2026 bid committee.

"We expect that if we do host matches, we would have close to 400,000 to 500,000 people come to Philadelphia in just that 30-day period," Kane continued. "It is also an opportunity, for sure, around economic impact for this city, and certainly coming out of COVID our hospitality industry that has been so ravaged by the pandemic; this is opportunity to build back and build back so much stronger."

Support is not universal. A protest was planned in South Philadelphia, with rally organizers expressing concern over the possibility of constructing practice fields in FDR Park.

RELATED: Philadelphia officials meet with FIFA, U.S. Soccer to bring World Cup 2026 to the Linc