With the number of fans gathered outside of Lincoln Financial Field on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 22, one could assume that a big, touring musical act or maybe even the Philadelphia Eagles were pulling into the stadium.
However, it was not Philadelphia’s beloved football team that people had lined up to greet, nor was it a world-famous musician coming to The City of Brotherly Love. Aboard the bus was a group of delegates from FIFA visiting Philadelphia, as it is a candidate host city for the FIFA World Cup 2026.
As they entered the concourse at The Linc, the delegates were met with a raucous round of applause and hundreds of cheering fans.
“You’re talking about the biggest sporting event in the world and it’s not even close,” President of Sons of Ben Matt Gendaszek said. “And then all eyes will be on Philadelphia. It’s immeasurable what that would mean to city and to the fans of the game.”
The delegation included FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President, Victor Montagliani, as well as Colin Smith, FIFA Chief Competitions and Events Officer. The group was touring the city to get a look at potential Fanfest sites, training facilities and Lincoln Financial Field.
“I hope they see the truth and what Philadelphia is,” Gendaszek said. “We’ve got a great downtown area that has easy access to a great sports complex, very walkable. This is somewhere where everyone around the world could come to. You’re 20 minutes from the airport, you’re in a great hotel and you can walk everywhere in the summer of 2026 where freedom was basically invented.”
Philadelphia has a long history of hosting large-scale events.
In 2019, the city welcomed the USWNT Victory Tour, CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals and the SheBelieves Cup. Other happenings include a 2018 match between Byern Munich and Juventus, the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals, Copa America Centenario in 2016, 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Finals, 2012 MLS All-Star Game, 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and a 2003 match featuring Manchester United and Barcelona.
Away from soccer, the city features the 120th Army-Navy football game, 2018 Super Bowl Parade, 2017 NFL Draft, 2016 Democratic National Convention, 2015 Papal Visit and 2000 Republican National Convention on its resume.
It is expected that the 11 U.S. venues which will host World Cup games will be announced in early 2022, as two venues will be selected in both Canada and Mexico with 16 stadiums overall picked by FIFA.