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FIFA chief predicts football will be the number one sport in the US by 2026 – Terrace Standard

16 cities of the first World Cup in three countries have become knownand FIFA President Gianni Infantino made a bold statement summarizing the goal of the 2026 tournament, which will be played primarily in the United States.

“By 2026, football – or football – will be the number one sport in this part of the world,” he said.

Roughly four years before the football showcase came to the US, Mexico and Canada, there were already winners and losers on Thursday: Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle and Kansas City, Missouri were among the cities chosen after , as they missed the 1994 championship. tournament.

Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville, Tennessee, and Orlando, Florida did not make the list.

Eleven US stadiums were taken, all from the NFL. Arlington, Texas; East Rutherford, New Jersey; Foxborough, Massachusetts, as well as Inglewood and Santa Clara, California, were holdovers from the 1994 tournament that raised football’s prominence in America.

The Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, which hosted the 1970 and 1986 finals, will be the first stadium for three World Cups chosen along with the Estadio Acron in Guadalajara and the Estadio BBVA in Monterrey.

BMO Field in Toronto and BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia were selected to host Canada for the first time, while Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta was excluded.

After deprecated FedEx Field recall in Landover, Maryland, Baltimore’s inactivity means it will be a rare World Cup where there will be no matches around the host nation’s capital.

“You can’t imagine the World Cup being held in the US without the capital playing a major role,” said Colin Smith, FIFA director of competitions and events.

Infantino has promised to host a fan festival at the National Mall in Washington, and venues in the three countries are being used as training grounds.

“The bottom line is always who is not chosen,” said US Football Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone.

Infantino’s goal of reaching the pinnacle of American sports seems achievable. In the 2021 season, the NFL averaged 17.1 million TV and digital viewers.while The 2018 FIFA World Cup drew an average of 5.04 million people. on American English and Spanish-language television.

“You lead the world in many areas,” Infantino said of North America, “the goal should be that you are also the world leader in the world’s No. 1 sport.”

“I know it was giggles and laughter,” said Victor Montagliani, president of the Confederation of North and Central America and the Caribbean. – He wasn’t joking.

Infantino defended FIFA financial requirements for bidding cities and states, which included exemption from sales tax. He said World Cup Income supports 211 FIFA members, and 75% of them would not be able to maintain their activities without money.

“This is certainly a fair compromise, taking into account the interests of the sport and the interests of the host countries,” he said.

The 1994 tournament set a record with a total attendance of 3.59 million. and an average of 68,991. US stadium capacity for 2026 is all 60,000 and above.

“I think this part of the world does not understand what will happen here in 2026,” Infantino said. “These three countries will be turned upside down. The world will invade Canada, Mexico and the United States.”

staking plan chosen in 2018 provided for 60 games in the US for first 48 countries cupincluding everyone since the quarter-finals, and 10 each in Mexico and Canada.

Specific locations for each round will be announced at a later date, and Infantino said UTC will be a factor for the final, making eastern and central time zones more likely. FIFA has gradually pushed back the start time of the final. 3:30 pm EST to 10:00 am EST for this year’s tournament, which is 10:00 pm in Beijing.

The US election did not include any of the nine stadiums in use in 1994. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and Camping World Stadium in Orlando were the only ones left in dispute, and they were among the venues abandoned in negotiations with stadiums and cities that continued until right before the announcement.

New stadiums were chosen in the five areas used in 1994. AT&T Stadium in Texas for Cotton Bowl in Dallas, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood for Rose Bowl, and Levi’s Stadium for Stanford Stadium.

Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts replaced adjacent demolished sites Giants Stadium and Foxboro Stadium.

Three sites in the US have retractable roofs, and SoFi has a fixed roof. All U.S. stadiums except Miami and Kansas City opened in 2002 or later.

Seats have a wider selection of high-end seats than in 1994 – a total of 3,757 luxury suites and 76,317 club seats were listed on the order book, even before the opening of SoFi, which hosted the Super Bowl this year.

Eight of 11 U.S. stadiums have artificial turf and promise to install temporary grass. Dietmar Exler, COO of AMB Sports & Entertainment, whose NFL Falcons and Major League Soccer teams play Mercedes-Benz, said grow lamps will be used.

“We will look very closely with FIFA on how we can manage and make sure we have the best natural turf,” he said. “This is one of the priority areas that we need to focus on.”

Some grounds, notably SoFi, currently cannot accommodate a 68 x 105 meter (75 x 115 yd) field and will need to be refurbished to remove the sidelines. FIFA made similar demands before 1994 but backed down and allowed narrower surfaces.

“We have to remove some of the bottlenecks,” Smith said. “It doesn’t have any material aspect of capacity.”

The Detroit area where the old Pontiac Silverdome hosted games was downsized in 2018, and Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium was a contender for the capital after FedEx dropped out in April. Washington RFK Stadium was in use in 1994.

Chicago, which hosted the first match in 1994 at Solider Field, refused to bid.referring to FIFA requirements.

Unlike the site’s 1992 announcement during a press conference, the 2026 announcement was made during the show’s broadcast from the Fox studio in Manhattan.

“He has grown so much in my life,” said US star Christian Pulisic, “and I hope he can take the next step.”

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AP Sports journalist Charles Odum from Atlanta contributed to this report.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Ronald Bloom, Associated Press

Soccer World Cup

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