Greater Boston put on its best soccer face on Tuesday, when it pitched its case to FIFA and US Soccer that it’s the perfect host for 2026 World Cup matches at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
In a virtual one-on-one Zoom meeting with FIFA representatives in Zurich, representatives from the New England Revolution, Kraft Sports & Entertainment, and several local groups presented their vision for how Greater Boston would succeed in hosting a portion of the most prestigious tournament, held every four years, of the world’s most popular sport.
Representatives from the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Greater Boston Sports Partnership also were part of the call.
A decision will not be made before the middle of next year. Greater Boston has already survived the first round of cuts and is one of 17 cities remaining for 10 slots. It’s considered to be a favorite to make the final 10, in part because Foxborough successfully hosted games during the 1994 World Cup — then at Foxboro Stadium — and the Kraft family, owners of the Revolution and the Patriots, have solid connections at US Soccer.
The Greater Boston organizers put together a bid that calls for numerous fan activations, team training sites throughout the city, and World Cup games to be played at Gillette Stadium.
“Our region is thrilled to have the opportunity to be a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and once again welcome the international soccer community to our diverse city, state, and region,” Brian Bilello, president of Boston Soccer 2026 and president of the Revolution, said in a press release.
“We had the honor of hosting matches for the 1994 FIFA Men’s World Cup, and the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cups, which brought fans across New England together for one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Boston is one of America’s most passionate sports cities that we know will welcome World Cup fans from around the globe with a world-class experience at Gillette Stadium.”
The other remaining US host cities/regions are Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington.
The next step in the process will be a site visit by FIFA, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that has yet to be scheduled.
The 2026 World Cup will be the largest to date with 80 matches — 60 in the US, 10 in Canada, and 10 in Mexico — featuring 48 national teams. The United 2026 bid was approved by FIFA in June 2018.
The US will host all matches from the quarterfinals through the championship.
The World Cup will be held in Qatar in 2022.
In the 1994 World Cup, Boston was one of nine host cities.
“Team Boston is committed to delivering an unparalleled World Cup experience for fans, athletes and team officials,” said Martha Sheridan, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. “In a year when America will be celebrating its 250th anniversary and the Commonwealth’s pivotal role in our country’s revolutionary story, it is only fitting that we would welcome the world to Boston as host to the greatest global sports tournament.”
Research by the Boston Consulting Group estimates that host cities could see as many as 450,000 visitors with a potential net economic impact of up to $480 million.