FIFA officials tour South Philadelphia sports complex to plan 2026 World Cup

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Thursday, September 28, 2023
FIFA officials tour South Philly sports complex to plan 2026 World Cup
FIFA officials tour South Philadelphia sports complex to plan 2026 World Cup

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- FIFA officials were in South Philadelphia Thursday for tours of the Sports Complex and Lincoln Financial Field to discuss logistics for the 2026 World Cup- the biggest sporting event in the world.

The group arrived Thursday morning for a one-day visit while making stops in all 16 host cities.

Officials said they'll review plans to build spaces around the stadium for 10's of thousands of fans, and will also discuss the smallest and probably most important detail- the blades of grass on the field.

The Eagles operations staff is also playing an important role by answering questions and taking recommendations to enhance the experience of the 62,000 soccer fans who will be in attendance for every match.

A soccer match was the first event held in the Linc when it opened in 2003. FIFA officials said they want a repeat of that energy, but this time during the World Cup. They said they know Philadelphia fans will show up big as the country celebrates its 250th anniversary.

"We're excited to host in Philadelphia," said Ross McCall, Executive Director Operations FWC26. "We picked them for a reason. Since day 1 we were super impressed by the level of buy-in and collective enthusiasm that the city had to offer."

No major decisions will come out of these meetings, but officials said this will be their first opportunity to discuss the recommendation for where Fan Fest could be held. It's expected to attract 15,000 to 20,000 people for free every day matches are played in the city.

"But rest assured it is not the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, for citizens of the city," said Meg Kane, Host City Executive Philadelphia Soccer 2026. "Philadelphia is a large area with a lot of different things FIFA looks for in a site. Not just capacity, but also proximity to the city. Also about feeling iconic, but we also have to take into account security measures, which means it can not be close to the stadium."

There are still a few unknowns, such as exactly which games will be held in Philadelphia.

Officials said the highest round Philadelphia could host is the quarterfinals. Cities with larger stadiums will host the semi-finals and finals.

FIFA expects to announce the schedule by the end of the year, officials said.