Football: 2026 World Cup ‘invasion’ will grow North America’s love of sport, says Infantino

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NEW YORK (REUTERS) – North America’s historic ambivalence toward soccer is no match for the spectacle of the 2026 World Cup, Fifa President Gianni Infantino said Thursday. June, as he tries to make the world “beautiful game” the sport par excellence also in the region.

World soccer governing body Fifa has announced the 16 cities – 11 in the United States, three in Mexico and two in Canada – that have been selected from among 22 entries presented at a special event at Rockefeller Center in New York.

The United States will host games in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and New York/New Jersey.

Mexico, which hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986, will host matches in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, while Canada, which is hosting the men’s event for the first time, will do so in Vancouver and Toronto.

Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville, Orlando, Washington DC/Baltimore and Edmonton are the six cities that missed out.

Location of the final still unknown

However, there was no indication of where the opening game or the final would be played.

“There are still discussions to be continued and we will definitely choose the best cities there also for the opener and the final, but every game will be a final of this World Cup,” Infantino said in televised remarks.

The Swiss boldly promised that football would surpass all other sports in the region.

It’s a daunting task in North America: In the United States, baseball has long been considered “America’s pastime.” In Canada, ice hockey is a religion, and only Mexico can reasonably claim football as king.

For Infantino, changing that is imperative – if not inevitable.

“This part of the world, these three countries, you lead the world in many areas,” he told reporters. “But in the No.1 sport in the world, which is soccer or football, you’re not yet.

“And the goal must be that you will also be leading the world in the world’s No. 1 sport.”

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