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D.C. makes case to host FIFA World Cup in 2026

Photo Credit: Max Brown/Max B. Photography

The 2026 FIFA World Cup may seem far away but selecting cities to host the event is well underway with 24 delegates currently in the midst of touring sites around Washington, D.C. as they make their case for one of ten slots available for the United States portion of the event.

The nation’s capital is no stranger to hosting the World Cup which is just one of the points D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser shared with visiting delegates during a press conference held at the International Spy Museum.

Often referred to as America’s “soccer capital,” the District of Columbia is the only U.S. city to have hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup, 1996 Olympic Soccer, 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2013 US Soccer Centennial Celebration. 

“Washington, D.C. is one of the world’s most recognizable cities and a global hub of culture with world-class infrastructure making it the premier destination for large-scale, international events,” said Max Brown, DC2026 Advisory Board Co-Chair.  “And we are a soccer city and region. We remain as confident as ever ahead of the delegation visit, which marks another important milestone with FIFA and U.S. Soccer as we work to host this fantastic event in our nation’s capital. We look forward to this next chapter in our city’s storied soccer legacy of both U.S. and international competition.”

During the FIFA site visit, D.C. also unveiled its vision for the 2026 FIFA FanFest, which will be located on the historic 300-acre National Mall, and will be the largest FIFA FanFest in FIFA World Cup history. The FIFA FanFestwill break more records on July 4, 2026, when the U.S. will celebrate its 250th birthday on the Mall in conjunction with the FIFA FanFest. City officials estimate there will be over onemillion attendees, making it the largest attended single-event in FIFA history.

“If you’ve been here on Independence Day, you know it’s a good time celebrating the birthday of our nation and people coming from all over the world and all over the region,” Bowser said. “So we think it’s the perfect marriage to bring the world’s greatest sporting event to the nation’s capital on the 4th of July. It will be an experience that no one will want to miss.”

To set themselves apart in their fourth World Cup bid, the Mayor brought along other heavy hitters to join her alongside Victor Montagliani, FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President and Colin Smith, FIFA Chief Tournaments & Events Officer.

Bill Hamid, D.C. United and U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper, and Briana Scurry, two-time Olympic gold medal winner and FIFA World Cup champion, former Washington Spirit Assistant Coach, former US Women’s National Team and Washington Freedom goalkeeper, both spoke from personal perspective about the deep roots of soccer in the region and how it has impacted their lives.

Additional speakers that helped lay out D.C.’s vision included:

  • Esteban Moctezuma, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States
  • Max Brown, DC2026 Advisory Board Co-Chair
  • Mark Ein, DC2026 Advisory Board Co-Chair
  • Greg O’Dell, President and CEO of Events DC
  • Gina Adams, Senior Vice President, FedEx Corporation
  • Nicole Quiroga, President & CEO, Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Danita Johnson, President of Operations, D.C. United
  • Members of the DC2026 Advisory Board and Bid Team

If selected, FedExField is the proposed site for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Local venues including Audi Field, Georgetown University, Segra Field, the Fields at RFK Campus and Maryland SoccerPlex would also be tapped as training sites.

“Our entire organization could not be more excited to continue our proud tradition of hosting major soccer events at FedExField,” Washington Football Team President Jason Wright said. “The opportunity to welcome the 2026 FIFA World Cup would be yet another capstone moment for our stadium hosting global soccer events, and we are eager to share with the delegation and the world how our major improvements across FedExField will carry forward that proud legacy and our longtime relationship with the sport.”  

The FIFA delegation is traveling to 16 other U.S. cities this fall and is expected to name the United States’ final ten host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in March 2022.