The 2026 World Cup will be more profitable than ever, especially because of the United States

The 2026 World Cup will be more profitable than ever, especially because of the United States

Americans in Kansas City celebrate their city’s selection as host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.Photo by USA Today Sports

After the controversial World Cup in Qatar, 3.5 years later, it will be the turn of Mexico, Canada and especially America to host the global football festival. And in the United States, where everything is going to be bigger than before, looking to the future has already begun. It seems that football, or football, has finally arrived.

During the North American edition, FIFA will greedily loosen its belt: more participants, more host cities, more matches and, above all, more income. FIFA announced on Friday that it is expected to achieve profits worth $11 billion. It’s all for the global development of the game, according to FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

In 2026, at least 48 countries will participate in the World Cup. Initially, the plan was to divide them into sixteen groups of three, but the success of the exciting group stage in Qatar raised FIFA’s doubts. Twelve groups of four countries are now being considered, which will increase the total number of matches from 64 to 104.

Eleven host cities in the United States

The massive World Cup tournament is supposed to last about five weeks and will be held largely on American soil. In June, FIFA selected eleven host cities in the country. Mexico got three, and Canada got two.

The locations are spread across the United States – Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle – across three time zones. It is played everywhere in stadiums designed for American soccer, and in some cases shared with clubs from the MLS soccer competition.

The artificial turf in many stadiums will have to give way to natural turf for the World Cup. In Atlanta, for example, and in Seattle and Vancouver. The decision sparked outrage in women’s football. In 2015, the World Championships were held in Canada on an artificial surface.

The problem may have been resolved long before the tournament: the American Football League (NFL) is also increasingly calling for the abolition of artificial turf, after a series of injuries suffered by prominent players.

It is noteworthy that Chicago, the third largest city in the United States, and the capital, Washington, D.C., were not included in the list of host cities. Chicago did not want to hand over the keys of the city to the demanding FIFA. Washington, which had made a bid with neighboring Baltimore City, was passed over. This is the third time that the capital of the organized country has disappeared after Bonn (1974) and Tokyo (2002).

Ready for the World Cup

The United States is ready for the World Cup. In the past 25 years, this sport has developed at record speed. “It will be the biggest in North America,” said FIFA president Infantino, who exaggeratedly described the World Cup in Qatar as “the best ever.”

The United States last hosted the World Championship in 1994. Football was at best an alien to the American sporting scene, but at worst it was a joke, inferior to real sports like American football, basketball and baseball.

Joy in Philadelphia after it was chosen as a host city for the World Cup.  Getty Image

Joy in Philadelphia after it was chosen as a host city for the World Cup.Getty Image

Football was mainly intended for girls and women, who instantly became the best in the world. In the famous animated series The Simpsons The sport has been portrayed as a dull, slow endeavor, with stationary men tapping the ball back and forth to each other nonstop. Some moderate football followers still find the draw phenomenon difficult.

One of the conditions for organizing in 1994 was to start a national football competition, after the stars of the NFL, with players such as Pele, Cruyff and Beckenbauer, died prematurely.

The new competition, Major League Soccer (MLS), has had difficulty getting off the ground, received a boost in 2007 with the arrival of David Beckham to the LA Galaxy, and has grown strongly in the past decade: the current 28 clubs will join the LA Galaxy. It will be expanded next season to thirty.

growth

Investors pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a piece of the MLS. Nowadays, talented people can go to youth academies. The number of players is growing rapidly in high schools.

Football, once primarily attractive to intellectuals with an aversion to American football, basketball or baseball, is slowly but surely moving into the field of vision of the average American sports fan. But the sport will not become the biggest, as Infantino has claimed, anytime soon. The NFL sits firmly on its throne.

However, the popularity of football has surpassed ice hockey. A poll conducted by Gallup Research Agency showed that 8% of Americans consider football their favorite sport, while previously this percentage was no more than a small fraction of this percentage. Among sports fans under the age of 30, the sport is more popular than baseball. The magazine concluded, “It’s finally okay for Americans to love soccer.” The New Yorker. “Or one step further: It’s no longer cool to hate her.”

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