Inside Los Angeles’ bid process to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup – The Hollywood Reporter
In early 2018, before Los Angeles Soccer Club had played its first Major League soccer game and Banc of California Stadium at Exposition Park had opened, the host committee of the World Cup Los Angeles has begun the process of campaigning for its place as host city for the 2026 World Cup.
The international competition organized by FIFA, the world’s governing body for association football, takes place every four years and attracts millions of fans around the world. North America (United States, Canada and Mexico) was selected as the region for the 2026 games in a unique joint bid in June 2018, making it the first World Cup anchored by three co -organizers, Canada and Mexico to host 10 games each, and 60 games to be played in the United States
On Thursday, June 16, FIFA is expected to specifically announce which of the 17 US cities vying for the chance to host tournament matches will receive the honor.
“It’s a long journey,” Larry Freedman, LA World Cup Host Committee Co-Chair and LAFC Co-President and Chief Commercial Officer, recount THR. “This next phase that we’re in right now is…” Okay, the three countries came together, won the bid, the 2026 World Cup will be played in cities in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Who wants it?
When it comes to sports as entertainment in the United States, most would consider the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL to be the most popular sports organizations with the public, along with MLS – which only got started. ‘in 1996 – in fifth place. But for many countries around the world, football is the No. 1 sport; If Los Angeles is lucky enough to host the big matches of the next FIFA World Cup, many organizers believe that the sport’s international cultural cache will be at home in a city known for its global cultural impact, thanks to Hollywood.
“Sport is entertainment. And the entertainment element of what we have here in LA cannot be compared to any other city in the world,” said Chris Klein, LA Galaxy President and Co-Chair of the Los Angeles World Cup Organizing Committee. “So when you have celebrities and people in the entertainment industry who also love football, being able to put them forward with our application has been something that, again, sets us apart from everyone else.”
Freedman adds, “In the United States, football at the professional level – at the major league level – continues to grow. As the United States becomes more and more cosmopolitan, and you can see it here in Los Angeles, people are connecting with what we call the “global game.” What has fueled the growth of MLS is a younger population, a much more diverse population, and a more female population than those other four sports.
The beauty of a joint regional bid is that there will be matches played in all three countries, this unity being a nod to the international camaraderie of competitive sport. Of the 17 US cities that want to participate as hosts at various points in the tournament, only 11 of them will be assigned games. This is partly because not all cities have the capacity to accommodate large enough crowds (according to Freedman, semi-final and final matches are events that can attract 100,000 people or more).
Thursday’s announcement will decide which events will be rewarded and where. Los Angeles, Freedman says, has billed itself as a “super host city.”
“We would like to be part of the rich legacy and history of the World Cup in the United States by hosting the opening match,” he said. As is the tradition of the World Cup, the national team of the host country always plays the first match of the tournament. “We would like the United States to play the opening match at the iconic Rose Bowl, where – the last time we hosted the World Cup – the final was played. And that’s also where the women won the 1996 Women’s World Cup in quite spectacular fashion.
Ideally, the two semi-finals and the final game would take place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. “It’s a technological marvel, there are incredible sightlines from pitch level to upper levels, and the club and premium spaces are unmatched and unmatched in any venue in the world,” Freedman says. “The two-sided, 360-degree Oculus video card hanging from the roof is an absolutely amazing audio-visual experience.”
If Los Angeles is selected to host the World Cup matches, the local economy should be supported by revenue. Klein says that based on the state-of-the-art stadiums Los Angeles currently has, the 2026 World Cup can break revenue records previously held by the 1994 games. Money aside, the organizing committee is most concerned about the cultural impact it will have on the city and by bringing the diversity of Los Angeles citizens to the sport.
“The most important thing we focus on is: ‘What is the legacy that a World Cup can bring?’ If you look at the 1984 Olympics that were held in Los Angeles – and the legacy that was left and continues to have the Olympics here today – we think the World Cup can have a similar effect on the city,” Klein says. “Not just during the World Cup, but for years to come.”