Cincinnati’s efforts to land the 2026 FIFA World Cup continues, albeit at a glacial pace.
FIFA, which oversees world soccer, says that it will make an announcement on June 16 about the World Cup. The organization has provided no details other than that the announcement will be broadcast live from New York City and it’s “a major and highly anticipated announcement related to the staging of the FIFA World Cup 2026™ across Canada, Mexico and the United States,” FIFA says in a press release.
Cincinnati is among a total of 22 cities or metro regions in North America vying to host World Cup matches in 2026, including 16 in the United States. For the first time in history, 48 teams will compete in World Cup in contests held across the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Quarterfinal matches will be played in the United States. Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval has pushed for the city’s inclusion as a World Cup host.
The Queen City launched its bid to host 2026 World Cup matches back in 2017. Officials had expected to see a shortlist of candidate cities earlier this year.
In October, Cincinnati welcomed FIFA and U.S. Soccer as officials toured Paul Brown Stadium, soccer training facilities, hospitality venues and potential Fan Fest location options. The Cincy Local Organizing Committee has focused on preparing the Cincinnati Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium for FIFA regulations. According to FIFA’s guide for bidding for the 2026 World Cup, host stadiums must have a seating capacity of at least 40,000 for quarter-final games, 60,000 for semi-finals and 80,000 for final matches. Paul Brown Stadium currently has a seating capacity of 65,515.
The West End’s TQL Stadium, where FC Cincinnati plays, has a capacity of around 26,000, making it too small for World Cup action.
Additionally, local officials are looking at the pitch. The game field in Paul Brown Stadium is synthetic turf, while FIFA regulations require natural grass.
In 2021, the Queen City was named as one of the best soccer cities in the United States. That year, TQL Stadium played host to the United States Men’s National Soccer Team’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Mexico, plus the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (featuring Cincinnati’s own Rose Lavelle) trounced Paraguay during an international friendly there.
The USMNT match was the region’s biggest tourism weekend since the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, officials said in November.
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