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San Francisco could host 2026 FIFA World Cup

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23 North American cities will be included in bid to host championship soccer match

Aerial Views Of San Francisco Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Played every four years, the FIFA World Cup is the single most prestigious tournament in soccer—a titillating game could quite possible be played right here in San Francisco come 2026. At least that’s the word according to the U.S. Soccer Federation.

United Bid, a joint effort by Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. soccer groups, named a total of 23 North American countries to be included in the FIFA Bid Book for the 2026 game.

“Canada, Mexico, and the United States have joined together to deliver a United Bid that offers FIFA and its member associations the power of unity, the promise of certainty, and the potential of extraordinary opportunity,” said John Kristick, executive director of the United Bid. “We are confident that the combination of our 23 existing world-class stadiums, 150 existing elite training facilities, and our modern and interconnected transportation network can help FIFA to achieve new records for attendance and revenue, which will allow the entire global football community to improve and grow.”

But not everyone is thrilled about it.

Chicago, host of the 1994 World Cup, didn’t bother vying for contention.

“FIFA could not provide a basic level of certainty on some major unknowns that put our city and taxpayers at risk,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office said in a statement, according to USA Today. “The uncertainty for taxpayers, coupled with FIFA’s inflexibility and unwillingness to negotiate, were clear indications that further pursuit of the bid wasn’t in Chicago’s best interests.”

Minneapolis and Vancouver pulled out for similar reasons.

Similar to International Olympic Committee shenanigans, city leaders have reportedly grown tired of the demands placed on a city (taxes, infrastructure, broken promises) to host these types of events. FIFA also came under fire in 2015 after federal prosecutors in the United States hit 16 FIFA officials with criminal charges, “alleging they were part of a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves while overseeing the world governing body of soccer.

In San Francisco, which has a strained transit system, hosting the international game at AT&T Park could prove a logistics nightmare. (However, it should be noted that AT&T Park has hosted World Series and All-Star games.)

But according to U.S. Soccer Federation, “The United Bid’s hosting vision and strategy projects more than 5.8 million tickets will be sold, generating in excess of $2 billion in ticketing revenue and ensuring every stadium for every match will be filled with passionate supporters from around the world.”

In the meantime, San Francisco still waits with breath that is bated on a cricket stadium.