World Cup 2026: FIFA president makes bold prediction about the sport

World Cup 2026: FIFA president makes bold prediction about the sport

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino made a bold prediction on Thursday as the governing body for soccer announced the host cities for the 2026 World Cup.

The next World Cup will be hosted among three countries for the first time. The United States, Mexico and Canada will all be involved in putting on one of the world’s biggest sporting events. Infantino said he predicted soccer would be the biggest sport on the continent by that time.

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Fans wait along 6th Avenue for FIFA's announcement of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in New York.

Fans wait along 6th Avenue for FIFA’s announcement of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

“By 2026, soccer – or futbol – will be the No. 1 sport in this part of the world,” he said.

The NFL, and even college football, dominate the airwaves and it seems like pro football never really stops with the amount of coverage on the sport from month-to-month.

The NFL averaged 17.1 million viewers for television and digital during the 2021 season while the 2018 World Cup in Russia averaged 5.04 million on U.S. English- and Spanish-language TV.

“You are leading the world in many areas. The objective must be that you will be leading the world, as well, in the world’s No. 1 sport,” Infantino said about North America.

CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, who oversees the governing body for soccer in the region, added: “I know it was giggles and laughs. He wasn’t joking.”

WORLD CUP 2026 PLAYING SITES REVEALED AS TOURNAMENT WILL BE STAGED ACROSS 3 COUNTRIES

The sites were broken down into three regions.

Western Region

  • Vancouver, Canada (B.C. Palace)
  • Seattle, Washington (Lumen Field)
  • Santa Clara, California (Levi’s Stadium)
  • Los Angeles, California (SoFi Stadium)
  • Guadalajara, Mexico (Estadio Akron)

Central Region

  • Kansas City, Missouri (Arrowhead Stadium)
  • Arlington, Texas (AT&T Stadium)
  • Atlanta, Georgia (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
  • Houston, Texas (NRG Stadium)
  • Monterrey, Mexico (Estadio BBVA)
  • Mexico City, Mexico (Estadio Azteca)

Eastern Region

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, left, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams speak at the 2026 FIFA World Cup host city selection watch party at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, Thursday, June 16, 2022.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, left, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams speak at the 2026 FIFA World Cup host city selection watch party at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, Thursday, June 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

  • Toronto, Canada (BMO Field)
  • Foxborough, Massachusetts (Gillette Stadium)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Lincoln Financial Field)
  • Miami Gardens, Florida (Hard Rock Stadium)
  • East Rutherford, New Jersey (MetLife Stadium)

It will be the first 48-nation World Cup, increased from the 32-team system used since 1998. There will be 16 groups of three nations. Each team will play two first-round games instead of three, and one nation in each group opens against an opponent who will have already played.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino answers questions during a 2026 soccer World Cup news conference Thursday, June 16, 2022, in New York.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino answers questions during a 2026 soccer World Cup news conference Thursday, June 16, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

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The top two teams in each group will move to a 32-nation knockout bracket.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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