Russia would be the first to agree that the surest way to qualify for a World Cup is to host it. Fresh off a disgraceful failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the United States of America proved that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and secured the rights to host the 2026 World Cup with some help from our allies (they are as of this writing, anyway), Mexico and Canada.
Sports Illustrated’s Tim Hackett provides us with some of the mechanical and logistical details:
The 2026 World Cup will expand to 48 qualified teams, up from the 32 that will be going to Russia. A total of 80 matches will be played, 60 in the U.S. and 10 apiece in Mexico and Canada. As part of the United Bid’s proposal, the opening day will feature one match in each of the three nations. Every match from the quarterfinals on will be played in the U.S. The final could potentially be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, while AT&T Stadium in Dallas and the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles have also been touted as possibilities.
Hackett notes that Philadelphia is among the 17 cities on the list of finalists that the United States has submitted for FIFA’s approval; the list is set to be pared down to 10 by 2021. It does not take a degree in advanced mathematics to figure out that the 10 cities who are ultimately selected will most likely host multiple matches.
Forgive my bias, but there is no way Philadelphia can be omitted from this selection, which should give Hershey’s own Christian Pulisic the chance to wear the red, white and blue right here.
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY
Put aside that some of the competition is weak (I’m talking to you, Baltimore and Cincinnati). The 2018 World Cup final is set to be played on July 15. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the World Cup matches in 2026 will precede and follow the 250th birthday of the United States of America. Here’s some free association for you: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House, the Museum of the American Revolution, the National Constitution Center. Not to mention Valley Forge.
Yeah, if FIFA has any sense of history, we’re getting some World Cup matches here in the Cradle of Liberty. And can you imagine some of the possible opponents? England. France. Germany. Even Mexico.
It’s a good thing we have eight years to prepare for this, because it’s going to be pretty wild.
But of course we aren’t going to leave you unprepared for this year’s tournament. Join Russ and me for the Crossing Broad FC World Cup Preview: