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Concerns Arise as Cities Grapple with Planning for Postponed 2026 World Cup by FIFA


Sep 15, 2023

A few years ago, FIFA announced that the preparations for the 2026 World Cup would be handled internally. This decision was expected to make the tournament larger, more complex, and require a higher level of expertise. The changes were meant to streamline the planning process and give FIFA more control over the expected $11 billion in revenue. However, as teams began their qualifying campaigns, cities across the country started feeling frustrated with the lack of clarity and communication from FIFA. They still did not know how many games they would be hosting or on which dates. The unclear sponsorship rules prevented local governments from making deals to cover the public funds they had committed to spending. Additionally, delays in hiring staff could hinder FIFA’s ability to organize the tournament successfully. Despite the United States, Canada, and Mexico winning hosting rights five years ago, many basic details, such as the date for the opening match, remain unknown. There have been concerns expressed by officials overseeing World Cup preparations in several cities regarding public relations missteps, leadership turmoil, and sudden changes in plans by FIFA. FIFA has fallen behind the pace of preparations compared to the previous two World Cups held in Russia and Qatar. There is a growing fear that FIFA might miss its biggest opportunity to establish soccer in the U.S. market. While FIFA has narrowed down the candidates for the final match’s host city to New York and Arlington, Texas, the dates for the matches have yet to be announced, causing anxiety among some U.S. cities. FIFA’s lack of clear communication and uncertainty has made it difficult for cities to plan adequately. Alan Rosenberg, who led preparations for the 1994 World Cup, has raised concerns about the uncertainties and frustrations faced by host cities. In response, FIFA claims to be working with the host country to develop a strong operational plan and promises to deliver an unforgettable event in 2026. Planning the 2026 World Cup is a monumental challenge due to its size, prominence, and complexity. It involves coordination between multiple federal agencies, national security considerations, and facilitating fan travel across borders. The planning process is further complicated by FIFA’s restructuring of the tournament and the complaints from host countries about FIFA’s increasing control over the competition. Even FIFA itself has faced challenges in recruiting staff and coordinating efforts to promote the tournament. The sudden resignation of FIFA’s chief executive Colin Smith has added to the uncertainties surrounding the event. The lack of coordination with existing American soccer facilities and organizations has been a public relations failure. Despite the challenges, a senior FIFA official involved in planning the tournament believes that the situation is not as dire as critics portray it to be. Money-related issues have also contributed to the dissatisfaction, as cities negotiate their share of revenue sources with FIFA. Furthermore, FIFA’s relationship with the US government appears to be cooling, and its chairman, Gianni Infantino, has not visited the White House since President Trump left office. Some believe that releasing the tournament schedule and giving more authority to the host cities could alleviate tensions. While there are concerns and frustrations, preparations for the 2026 World Cup continue, and FIFA remains committed to delivering a successful event.

By Editor

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