A 21-member FIFA delegation concluded a three-day visit to Southern California on Sunday to study the region’s ability to host games and other events for the 2026 World Cup.
“I think we’re putting our best foot forward,” said Larry Freedman, LAFC’s co-president who co-chairs the Los Angeles World Cup Host Committee. “Hopefully we got the job done.”
The 2026 World Cup will be the largest in history, with 48 teams playing 80 matches in the United States, Mexico and Canada. FIFA, the governing body of global football, is considering a list of 22 potential host cities for the tournament, 17 of them in the United States
FIFA is expected to select the 16 finalists, 11 of whom will be in the United States, by the middle of next year. The delegation looked at two Southern California stadiums: the Rose Bowl, which hosted a men’s World Cup final in 1994 and a women’s final in 1999, and SoFi Stadium, home to the $ 5 billion NFL Rams and Chargers.
“The city of Los Angeles is very attractive to FIFA,” said Galaxy President Chris Klein, co-chair of the host committee. “Our amazing weather, the culture and diversity of Los Angeles, also our ability to host big events and not just when the event is over, pack the tent and go.
“The legacy we have been able to create around the 1984 Olympics, around the 1994, 1999 World Cups [Women’s] The World Cup and how we have been able to continue after the event leaves, it was something in our favor. ”
There are also things that go against the bid. SoFi Stadium, for example, appeals to FIFA because of its proximity to the airport, its ability to accommodate audiences of up to 100,000 and its 260 luxury suites. But the field is too narrow for a World Cup match, and the artificial Matrix grass had to be covered with a blanket of real grass.
“It has been a problem that everyone has been aware of. And the team at SoFi is working, as I understand it, to come up with a solution, ”said Freedman. “Hopefully they can get there.”
Hopes of bringing the World Cup final back to Southern California may also be hampered by the clock. Europe is nine hours ahead of Los Angeles, so the match should start no later than noon to finish in prime time on the continent.
In addition to touring the stadiums, the FIFA delegation inspected several proposed venues for the official FIFA Fan Fest as well as training grounds and base camps for teams that would play here. The delegates also visited the Grammy Museum, attended a reception at Sony Pictures Studios, attended a Kings hockey game at the Staples Center, and had a unique culinary experience of Southern California’s diverse neighborhoods.
The Southern California Host Committee has designated the region as a super-host city, as it offers two stadiums and also hosts associated fan and cultural events.
“We do not want to take anything for granted. But we are definitely proud of our city, proud of the venues we put out there, ”Klein said. “We are very proud that we have positioned ourselves as a football city. So we are happy with that, but we certainly do not take anything for granted.”
Founded in 2019, ChampionLA, the fundraising effort behind the World Cup Host Committee, is a private sector initiative that works to attract and support high-profile sporting and entertainment events and to meet the financial obligations of hosting these events. The Host Committee is chaired by the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC).