Philly named as a host city for 2026 FIFA World Cup

Philadelphia is one of more than a dozen cities in North America that will host the FIFA World Cup games in 2026.

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File photo: Soccer fans celebrate in Love Park as Philadelphia is named to host the 2026 World Cup. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

File photo: Soccer fans celebrate in Love Park as Philadelphia is named to host the 2026 World Cup. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Lincoln Financial Field will be hosting a different kind of football in 2026, as one of the host cities of one the biggest events in world sports.

On Thursday, Gianni Infantino, president of the Federation Internationale de Football Association, announced Philadelphia as one of 16 cities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico that will host the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

“Being from Pennsylvania myself, I mean it’s really terrific,” said the US national team’s star player — and Hershey, Pa. native — Christian Pulisic shortly after the announcement. “I am looking forward to that one.”

Locally, fans erupted at a watch party thrown in LOVE Park to celebrate the win. Alejandro Bedoya, captain of the Philadelphia Union, was among the revelers at the event.  He said Philadelphia is a strong soccer city, but this will expose the city’s passion and zeal to an international audience. “This is putting Philadelphia on the world stage,” he said.

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Shane Snishioka Healy said just the announcement of the games coming to Philly will bring more people to love the international sport.

“The city is going to grow the sports in Philadelphia itself as well, I think it’s really exciting to have the games here,” Snishioka Healy said.

Shane Snishioka Healy and Jasmine Teh celebrate the World Cup win for Philly.(Tom MacDonald, WHYY)

Darrell Redmond is a soccer fan who said this will electrify the city and show how rabid Philly fans are.

“You’ve seen with the Super Bowl, you’ve seen with everything else how excited the city gets so it should be amazing,” Redmond said.

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Soccer fan Darrell Redmond. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Former Comcast executive David Cohen started the city’s bid effort, and was replaced by Dan Hilferty when he left Philadelphia to become a US Ambassador. Hilferty said this is a shining moment for Philadelphia.

“We now have the chance to wow the world, to show how Philadelphia shines on the biggest stages under the brightest lights,” he said.

The event will also be a bonanza for Philadelphia’s tourist industry. It could mean a quarter-billion dollars or more for the regional economy from people traveling to and staying in area hotels to see the games. City officials estimate the games could create 3,500 jobs.

Mayor Jim Kenney is happy for the win saying “it’s a great day” for Philadelphia.

The summer tournament will coincide with Philadelphia’s semiquincentennial, the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The 2026 tournament will feature 48 nations competing in a total of 80 matches, an expansion from the 32 that will face off in Qatar in November. According to FIFA, 3.572 billion people watched the 2018 Men’s World Cup tournament in Russia, with 1.12 billion viewers worldwide tuning in for the final match alone.

Among the host cities joining the city of Brotherly Love in the United States are Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Kansas City, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle.

Canada will have matches in Toronto and Vancouver, while matches in Mexico will be played in Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.

Mexico will become the first nation to host the men’s World Cup three times, having held it in 1970, and in 1986 as a late replacement for the original host, Colombia.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first time that three nations have hosted the tournament simultaneously. Japan and South Korea shared the men’s World Cup in 2002, while the 2023 women’s World Cup will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

The U.S. last hosted the tournament in 1994, where Philly’s failed bid to be one of the nine host cities was considered a longshot.

The Linc’s last big soccer spectacle was the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where the Mexican men’s national team defeated Jamaica — who stunned a heavily favored United States side in the semifinals — to lift the trophy.

The announcement comes at a strong period for soccer in the city, with the Union still in a strong position to make this year’s Major League Soccer playoffs. Last season, the Union came within one match of the MLS Cup final, falling short to the  eventual champions, New York City FC after 11 Union players were sidelined due to COVID health and safety protocols..

The successful bid keeps alive the city’s efforts to host multiple major sporting events during the 250th celebration. Major League Baseball has already committed to hosting the league’s all star game in Philly in 2026. City leaders continue to lobby the other major sports leagues to follow MLB’s lead.

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