Leadoff: Atlanta has vested interest in 2026 World Cup vote

Atlanta’s sports-business community will be paying close attention to the outcome of  Wednesday’s vote by FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, on where to play the 2026 World Cup. 

There are two bids on the ballot: a joint United States/Mexico/Canada bid and a competing bid from Morocco. The vote by FIFA’s member nations will be held in Moscow on the eve of the start of this year’s World Cup. 

Interest in the vote will be high among officials with the Atlanta Sports Council, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Atlanta United because Atlanta figures to play a prominent role in the 2026 event if the U.S./Canada/Mexico bid prevails. 

The joint bid proposes that the two semifinals would be played in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, citing “geographic location, travel distances and stadium capacity.”

That proposal comes with no guarantee, even if the U.S./Canada/Mexico bid wins Wednesday’s vote. The bid names 23 cities in the three nations as candidates to host World Cup matches eight years from now and says that if the bid is successful the number would be whittled down to 16 “official host cities” by June 2021. 

That would leave plenty of time for negotiation and competition, as the bid makes clear: “The (joint) bid offers FIFA 23 qualified stadiums – more than the required number -- and all are ready to compete to offer the best possible experience for players and officials, fans, partners, media, and other stakeholders, giving FIFA maximum flexibility and leverage. The (joint) bid will work with FIFA to select the final 16 stadiums for the competition.” 

The bid also recommends either Atlanta or Dallas as host of the international broadcast center during the 2026 event.

A FIFA committee visited Atlanta in April, touring Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Atlanta United’s training facility.

“The message (to FIFA) is simple,” Atlanta Sports Council president Dan Corso said during that visit. “We are a city that is built to host the biggest sporting events in the world, and the World Cup is that. 

“We have the venues – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Georgia World Congress Center – surrounded by thousands of hotel rooms … in a compact district.” 

Corso and others stressed the city’s history of hosting huge sports events, including the Olympics, Super Bowls and Final Fours. 

“The World Cup is the one that we haven’t had, so we would love to add that to the roster,” Corso said. 

Atlanta’s message to FIFA also emphasized the popularity of the city’s MLS team. 

“We tried to give them a sense of how soccer has taken off here in the city of Atlanta and what that could mean for this region, America, Canada and Mexico, if we can get the World Cup in 2026,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said during the April visit.  

For the 2026 World Cup, the number of participating teams will increase from 32 to 48 and the number of matches from 64 to 80. If the North American bid prevails over Morocco, 10 matches would be played in Canada, 10 in Mexico and 60 in the U.S. The bid proposes MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., as the site of the 2026 final.

But first things first: Wednesday’s vote in Moscow. 

* * * 


> Braves fans are having a big impact in early voting for the National League All-Star team. See Gabe Burns’ story here.  

> Julio Jones, apparently unhappy with his current contract, will skip the Falcons’ “mandatory” minicamp that begins today. See D. Orlando Ledbetter’s report here and Mark Bradley’s column here.

> The University of Georgia’s dynamo track coach delivers on promise of national championships, DawgNation’s Chip Towers writes.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Ryan on surpassing Montana on NFL’s all-time touchdown pass list
Ryan on surpassing Montana on NFL’s all-time touchdown pass list

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s third touchdown pass to running back Tevin Coleman in the fourth quarter of the 34-29 win over Tampa Bay moved him past Joe Montana on the NFL’s all-time touchdown pass list. Ryan now has 274 career touchdown passes and is 16th all-time. Montana, who played when the rules weren’t so tilted toward...
Snap counts in Falcons win over Bucs
Snap counts in Falcons win over Bucs

Here are snap counts and play time percentages from the Falcons’ 34-29 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday: G B Fusco                  100% 67            6 21% T R Schraeder         100% 67            6 21%...
The Bow Tie Chronicles: Somber mood after win over Bucs 
The Bow Tie Chronicles: Somber mood after win over Bucs 

In the 83rd episode of The Bow Tie Chronicles podcast, Falcons coach Dan Quinn, quarterback Matt Ryan and free safety Damontae Kazee discuss the, 34-29, victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Falcons improved to 2-4 on the season, but may have lost kicker Matt Bryant to a hamstring injury.  Subscribe to “The Bow Tie Chronicles&rdquo...
On the beat: LSU defensive wizard outschemed Georgia’s multifaceted offense
On the beat: LSU defensive wizard outschemed Georgia’s multifaceted offense

BATON ROUGE, La. — Dave Aranda is the highest paid coordinator in college football, and Saturday afternoon the LSU   defensive wizard earned his $2.5 million annual salary by throttling Georgia’s multifaceted offense. Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said in the days leading up to LSU’s 36-16 win over the Bulldogs...
Winners and Losers from Georgia’s disappointing loss at LSU
Winners and Losers from Georgia’s disappointing loss at LSU

Welcome to  Good Day, UGA , your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more. Loser: Jake Fromm, sophomore quarterback We’re not going to get...
More Stories