Baltimore Officials to Vote on Hosting 2026 FIFA World Cup

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The Uruguay-Costa Rica match at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Photo by Danilo Borges/Portal da Copa, via Wikimedia Commons.

Barring any hiccups tomorrow, city officials will officially make Baltimore a potential host city for the world’s biggest soccer tournament eight years away.

Baltimore’s Board of Estimates is set to vote on a so-called host city agreement tomorrow for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, according to its agenda. The agreement “represents an irrevocable offer” to FIFA and the United Bid Committee for Baltimore “to be appointed as a host city,” the agenda says. It’s also a required contract from FIFA, the international governing body for soccer.

Baltimore is among 32 cities–cut down from 41 in the fall–being considered to host matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The United States, Canada and Mexico all submitted a joint bid for North America to play host to the tournament. The United States would host 60 games, while Canada and Mexico would each get 10, the Toronto Star reported last month. North America is competing with Morocco, which also submitted a bid.

If North America wins, Baltimore stands a solid chance of getting to either host some matches or at least training camp. At least 12 cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico would ultimately play host to games, the United Bid Committee said in October, though numerous other cities would be tapped to host team base camps and other events leading up to official competition. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford has already eagerly offered up M&T Bank Stadium as a host venue.

Baltimore’s nearby host-venue competition includes Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and New York/New Jersey. Reps from all 32 short-listed cities met in November 2017 in Houston for a work session with the United Bid Committee.

While Board of Estimates approval of the host city agreement would be a key step in bringing the World Cup to Baltimore, the next couple years will still be a waiting game. The board’s agenda says FIFA will finalize its host city list in 2020. Until then, we can enjoy The Blast at their new digs in Towson.

Ethan McLeod
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