Philadelphia was one of 16 cities selected to host FIFA World Cup matches in 2026. Philadelphia and the surrounding region expect to see an economic impact of a quarter of a billion dollars and will have the spotlight on a global stage during the country’s 250th birthday. Games will be at Lincoln Financial Field.
Philadelphia Soccer 2026 hosted a watch party in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park as FIFA announced host cities across Canada, Mexico and the United States for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Fans gathered in the popular Center City park during a live broadcast and rejoiced when Philadelphia was named.
2026 World Cup sites
Philadelphia was one of 16 cities in North America to host World Cup matches. Sites were announced by west, central and east locations.
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- Kansas City
- Mexico City
- New York
How Philadelphia landed the World Cup
The bid process started back in 2017 as part of the United Bid to bring the World Cup to North America. After it was awarded to North America in 2018, that’s when the competitive bids for specific cities began. The bid was supposed to be completed by the end of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the announcements until yesterday, June 16.
Meg Kane, Bid Coordination and External Affairs for Philadelphia Soccer 2026, said one of the biggest tactics they had to use to bid was persuasion.
“I often times think, because of where we land on the eastern corridor, people don’t realize how great of a city we are,” Kane said. “A lot of times, our bids are about educating people who don’t know us that well – about everything we have and everything that we are. We’ve frequently heard from different organizations that come in to view us for a bid is like ‘Wow, we’re surprised!’ and I think we love that.”
So, Philadelphia is overlooked and considered an underdog?
“Absolutely. As Jason Kelce would tell you, hungry dogs run faster.”
Some of the big names on the bid leadership include former Philadelphia Eagle Zach Ertz, and his wife and United States Women’s team member, Julie, Carli Lloyd and Union midfielder and captain Alejandro Bedoya.
“They’ve all been incredibly supportive. Anything we’ve asked them to do, they have really tried hard to be responsive to that, which we so appreciate,” added Kane.
Potential cultural and economic impact for Philadelphia
The World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world and will undoubtedly bring a cultural and economic impact to the city.
In 2018, a record of 3.58 billion people watched the World Cup. The final between France and Croatia brought in an audience of 1.12 billion people.
Kane is expecting 500,000 fans from all over the world to come to Philadelphia during the duration of the World Cup in 2026. She also said that 40% of the United States’ population is within a 24-hour drive to Philadelphia.
“Conservatively, we’re probably looking at a quarter of a billion dollars if not more, [in revenue generated]. Culturally, I think soccer is about to explode. Look around at this group, this is a diverse group. There are so many cultures that come together. It is really fascinating to see the unity come together.”
World Cup host city reaction
LOVE Park was buzzing at around 5 p.m. when the announcement broadcast began. There was live music, carnival games and food trucks scattered throughout the park making it a family and friend environment.
Jack Cavanaugh and his son, Jack, have been season ticket holders for the Philadelphia Union for the last three years and were excited to celebrate Philadelphia’s bid.
“It’s an international recognition, which is really good,” the elder Cavanaugh said. “A lot of people don’t realize this, when Lincoln Financial Field first opened, the very first event was a soccer event. It was sold out. It was a friendly game between Manchester United and FC Barcelona. There’s big soccer fandom in the Philadelphia area.”
Amy Kohl was also on hand with her two children, Alexis, 16, and Mason, 14. Alexis and Mason are big soccer fans and have played since they were three years old.
“Being a soccer player myself and growing up in the Philly area, I have always wanted this to happen,” Alexis said. “We’ve been to international matches before and to have those kinds of teams come here would be really cool.”
When the bids were announced, Philadelphia showed out.
Hometown hero on US Men’s Soccer team
Christian Pulisic is considered the best player on the US Men’s Soccer team and is a native of Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Pulisic, 23, played for Dortmund in Germany in Bundesliga for the first four years of his career and has played for Chelsea in the Premier League since 2020. He’s scored 32 career goals and has 24 assists.
How special would it be if Pulisic and the US drew Philadelphia as a site in 2026?
2022 World Cup odds
Before the spotlight turns to the 2026 World Cup and Philadelphia, there is still the 2022 World Cup. It is usually in the summer but when Qatar was selected as the host site it was moved to the end of the year. Betting on the 2022 World Cup is available now at Pennsylvania sportsbooks. The World Cup starts Nov. 21 and group play continues through Dec. 2
Odds to win the World Cup
Lead image by Corey Sharp