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Revolution president says Foxborough was a big winner with 2026 World Cup schedule

Members of the Boston World Cup 2026 host committee held a press conference Monday. Left to right are Alexander Klosterkemper, Impact Strategies at Boston Soccer 26; Brian Bilello, Revolution president; Martha J. Sheridan, president/CEO of Meet Boston; and Mike Loynd, president of Boston Soccer 26.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The next men’s FIFA World Cup is two-plus years away, but in the battle of venues, Boston/Foxborough got the jump on several competitors. The awarding of seven games, including a quarterfinal, to Gillette Stadium signifies that only four sites will play host to more matches than Massachusetts.

“For sure, we are extremely happy that we got seven games here,” Revolution president Brian Bilello said Monday during a presentation in downtown Boston. “So that’s certainly a win. And the prestige of having a quarterfinal is amazing.

“I think we have a great city, a very walkable city. It’s a place people like to visit, and that Eastern Seaboard with us, Philly, and New York is a nice anchor point to really limit the travel for fans, let them see the city, let them see a lot of games. From that perspective, we certainly view it as a win. But there’s a lot of work to do.”

The quarterfinal is scheduled for July 9, 2026, so Boston/Foxborough will remain in the conversation for nearly a month, longer than cities such as Philadelphia, which has been awarded six games. Philadelphia did claim success by campaigning for a July 4 date, commemorating the country’s 250th year of independence; that will be a round-of-16 contest, concluding the city’s involvement in the tournament.

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“It’s not just a stadium event,” Bilello said. “You’ll have a major Fan Fest in downtown Boston, fans will be able to come into Boston to watch games, watch their favorite teams, have that sort of communal excitement around the sport. This really isn’t seven event days. It’s a month-and-half-long event.”

Boston/Foxborough outpaced Kansas City, San Francisco/Palo Alto, Seattle, and Toronto, which will have six dates. Houston, Miami, and Vancouver also will stage seven matches. Only Arlington/Dallas (nine), plus Atlanta, Inglewood/Los Angeles, and New York/New Jersey (eight each) will have more matches than Gillette Stadium.

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Considering its age (it opened in 2002) and seating capacity (68,000), Gillette apparently has overachieved. The stadium maxed out on its potential matches, according to Bilello.

“We couldn’t host a semifinal or final,” Bilello said. “There’s a size limitation, and our venue isn’t big enough. We weren’t in the running for a semifinal or final, so we got the biggest game we could get for the capacity of Gillette.”

Foxboro Stadium scored a similar coup in 1994, hosting six games, including a quarterfinal.

Just being named a World Cup site should be considered a victory for Boston/Foxborough, since only 16 venues were chosen in Canada, Mexico, and the US.

Where teams will be based will not be determined until the final draw, after qualifying concludes in late 2025. Local organizers hope to attract the top teams and avoid low-profile countries, several of which will likely qualify, because of the expanded field of 48 entrants. But Bilello said no campaign is planned to recruit teams because of draw procedures.

“It’s random,” Bilello said. “We’ll know after the draw what we’ll have here. They do seed the teams. As you get those group games, you’re guaranteed to have some of those big teams come through, just because of the way the draw happens.

“It’s not like somehow it could turn out the top 10 teams are all on the West Coast or on the East Coast. So, group stages, you’re definitely going to get some really good teams here. And going to the quarterfinal, odds are you’re going to have a big dog.”

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If local organizers want to set up international matches to promote the World Cup, they could struggle to arrange dates.

“We’re always looking at those games,” Bilello said. “One of the difficult things we have is the Leagues Cup tournament [between MLS and Liga MX clubs] takes place right in that preseason European window. We’re still looking at it and we’d love to get some games over here. But we’re pretty full on soccer here at Gillette. But if we have an opportunity, we definitely would do that.”

As for tickets, the sale will begin with hospitality and corporate packages, Bilello said.

“They’ll go pretty quickly,” Bilello said of the initial offering. “For general tickets, they will be much harder to come by. There will be a series of lotteries and opportunities for fans. FIFA has an allocation process. People coming from other countries, there’s a bloc of tickets for each team, to be sold by each federation for their visitors who are coming.

“If you want to go to the World Cup, get into the lottery because it’ll be really hard to get a ticket.”


Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at frankdellapa@gmail.com.