Early Wednesday morning, FIFA voted to award the 2026 World Cup bid to United 2026, a combined bid from the United States, Canada, and Mexico over Morocco, who was looking to host the tournament alone.

Amongst the many stateside cities in play for America’s part in the world’s largest soccer tournament will be Atlanta, home of Major League Soccer’s most popular club, Atlanta United, quite possibly the best indoor soccer facility in the country, Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Today’s news that FIFA has chosen North America as the site for the 2026 World Cup is exciting both for our nation and for our city,” commented Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.  Now that this decision has been made, I am hopeful that our incredible Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s ability to accommodate the thousands of fans who will attend and Atlanta’s undeniable and growing excitement about soccer will ensure that we are offered the opportunity to once again host one of the world’s largest sporting events.

“Through the Olympics, soon to be three Super Bowls, five Final Fours, and numerous other world-class sporting events, Atlanta has proven that we have what it takes to host the World Cup successfully,” Bottoms continued. “We look forward to working with FIFA’s leadership, the Atlanta Sports Council, the Atlanta United and all those who have been involved in the bid process to bring the semifinal game to our city.”

The United 2026 bid, a combination of a bid developed and presented to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) by the soccer federations of Canada, Mexico, and the United States is one of the immense possibilities as it is the first ever combined effort to host a World Cup in three countries. Morocco 2026 was the sole contender to United 2026 for the rights to host the games. United 2026 earned garnered support from 200 of the 211 nations that voted for the bid. The official voting was 134-65 in favor of the United 2026 bid.

The plan is to have 23 cities from all three North American countries host matches and with the United State having the majority of the 23 cities, hosting 60 of a possible 80 matches.

Atlanta is known for its hospitality and diversity in regards to entertainment and family fun. Only a half-hour drive from the country’s busiest airport, Atlanta is home to some of the biggest and most popular festivals, fairs and fan fest in the world, including Comic-Con this summer.

That said, there is one quadrennial sporting event that brings the world together like no other and Atlanta may get an opportunity to add it to the list of events it has hosted. The 2026 World Cup is up for bid and the city of Atlanta is amongst 23 cities coming together as part of a North American effort to win the right to host arguably the world’s most popular sporting event.

The American cities include: Atlanta, Pasadena, Inglewood and Santa Clara, Dallas, Houston, East Rutherford, New Jersey, Baltimore, Landover, Kansas City, Denver, Miami, Orlando, Foxborough, Nashville and Cincinnati. Each cities are soccer hotbeds and have teams play either in stadiums in those respective cities or in a neighboring city.

Selling the World Cup to fans in these cities should not be a problem and that is the major reason Atlanta, in particular, is a hot property for FIFA. Atlanta United, the two-year-old MLS property, has been a major hit in Atlanta and the odds of the fans that support the home team supporting the country’s team and the World Cup, in general, are very high if the regular season attendance over the past two seasons, strong social media following, and local media attention are any proof.  

Atlanta United broke the MLS attendance record on Sept. 19, 2017, when 70,425 fans attended a match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (capacity 71,000) only days after 70,826 attended the Atlanta Falcons season opener against the Green Bay Packers. The potential for all 71,000 seats to be filled for a match between the United States and Mexico or England and France is more than just a possibility.

The United States hosted the 1994 World Cup but Atlanta was not one of the host cities participating due to winning the bid to host the 1996 Olympic Summer Games on Sept. 18, 1990. Atlanta hosted over 10,000 athletes for 271 events so a World Cup is more than doable.

Mexico has twice hosted a Worl Cup in 1970 and most recently in 1986. Canada has never hosted a men’s World Cup but did host the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Atlanta is already scheduled to host the 2019 Super Bowl and 2020 Final Four, both at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. With the 2026 World Cup bid successful, matches played in Atlanta will more than likely be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The United States, Canada and Mexico will be hosting the 2026 World Cup and Atlanta has a really good chance to host the final. Photo credit: US Soccer

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *