BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore lost its bid to be a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
FIFA, soccer’s governing body, announced host cities for the 48-team tournament during a live broadcast from New York City on Thursday night. The United States, Canada and Mexico are hosting games, marking the first time three countries have shared host duties for soccer’s biggest competition.
In April, Baltimore and Washington D.C. announced they were merging bids, with games being played at M&T Bank Stadium and a large fan festival being held on the National Mall.
The nation’s capital would have served as a backdrop for the World Cup during the country’s Semiquincentennial.
“In line with the previous stages of the FIFA World Cup 2026 selection process, any announcement will be made in the best interests of football, taking into consideration the needs of all stakeholders involved, as we aim to lay the foundations for the tournament to be delivered successfully across all three countries,” said FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani, who is also the president of soccer’s governing body in North America, Central America and a small part of South America, CONCACAF.
Baltimore’s fútbol fanatics aren’t so enthused. Reporter Kelsey Kushner captured a collective “boo” from a local bar after DC/Baltimore was excluded from FIFA’s announcement.
A collective “boo” from the crowd after the cities were announced on the east coast for the World Cup – Baltimore/DC was not one of them. @wjz pic.twitter.com/sLK9FJySKO
— Kelsey Kushner (@KelseyKushnerTV) June 16, 2022
M&T Bank Stadium was one of 17 stadiums in 16 areas in contention for the 10-12 slots allotted to the U.S. The host cities selected were split into three regions: West, East and Central cities.
The Western region cities selected are Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Central cities selected are Kansas City, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, and Monterrey, Mexico and Mexico City, Mexico.
The Eastern region cities selected are Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and New York City.
Representatives from FIFA and U.S. Soccer toured M&T Bank Stadium and other sports amenities in Baltimore last September.
FIFA said in a May news release that while stadiums are “an essential element” of the selection process, the organization will also consider other venues for events related to the tournament, sustainability, infrastructure and financial impact.
“During the past months we have had open exchanges with the candidate host cities on a number of different topics. We are very thankful and impressed by how dedicated and innovative they all are,” said Colin Smith, FIFA’s chief tournaments and events officer.
The Maryland Sports Commission led the charge to bring games to Baltimore.
Prior to FIFA’s visit last summer, the group touted M&T Bank Stadium’s downtown location and the proximity of hotel rooms, training facilities and other amenities.
“Situated just 10 miles from the BWI Marshall International Airport and with more than 10,000 hotel rooms within walking distance, the stadium and city plans are also consistently praised for offering a great fan experience and generating a real sports-mad city buzz,” organizers said in a press release.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and local sports apparel company Under Armour have all thrown their support behind the bid to bring World Cup games to the city.
Last November, Rutherford, who serves as co-chair of the committee behind Baltimore’s bid, and Maryland Sports Commission executive director Terrance Hasseltine met with executives from the English Football Association at Wembley Stadium in London to discuss hosting the logistics of hosting large soccer games.
Following the merger, Rutherford said, “The combination of our two world-class cities in the Capital Region will provide FIFA with exceptional soccer facilities for match play in Baltimore, and the grandeur of the nation’s capital for cultural activities to celebrate the World Cup in the United States.”
The Maryland Sports Commission is inviting fans and supporters to attend a public watch party at Abbey Burger Bistro’s Fells Point location, at 811 S. Broadway. Festivities kick off at 5 p.m.