FIFA officials in Bay Area to tour possible sites for 2026 World Cup matches
SAN FRANCISCO - The lovefest between the Bay Area World Cup Host Committee and members of FIFA got off to a glowing start Friday, as it appeared during a news conference in San Francisco.
"The presentation demonstrated the strong experience of organizing events. And that was very plain to see," said a World Cup official.
The ultimate goal for the region and soccer’s fans is to have a place to see in-person, international football in the Bay Area during the 2026 World Cup.
"For any soccer fan, the World Cup is something you wait for every four years. And you’re excited to watch," said Tommy Thompson, right-back defender for the San Jose Earthquakes.
The United States, Mexico, and Canada – forming a first-ever triumvirate of countries, vying to host the international competition.
"This is an incredible opportunity for the entire region. We’ve hosted amazing events in the past like the Super Bowl. But the World Cub is the equivalent of having a half- dozen Super Bowls over an entire month," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said before Friday's news conference.
FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, will select a total of 16 cities to host matches. But 22 cities are pitching for the honor.
"Every city has accommodation, airports, transport networks, stadiums," said FIFA Chief Competitions & Events Officer Colin Smith. "We also take into consideration climate, geography and travel for teams, the time zone."
Over the course of the weekend, business leaders with the San Francisco 49ers, and companies such as Airbnb, Google, and Salesforce, will roll out the red carpet for FIFA officials at Levi’s Stadium, a potential venue sight.
Other venues, such as the San Jose Earthquakes facility could serve as training sites.
A good impression could lead to a good economic boost for the entire region.
"In places where there has been a good use plan and it has leveraged existing infrastructure, those have fared much, much better," said Jason Chung, an assistant professor of sports management at the University of New Haven.
The list of 22 won’t be pared down to 16 until the first quarter of 2022..
So the "peach pitch" by officials is on, to show why the soccer world would be better off in the Bay Area’s hands..
"To play it in front of your home fans, in the U.S. would be incredible," said Thompson.
The other U.S. cities under consideration to host World Cup matches include Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, D.C.
Saturday, FIFA members will come to Levi’s Stadium to examine not only the field, but also the locker rooms, and broadcast facilities, to see how those spaces are used and can be used during a world cup match.