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Seattle Will Host 2026 Men’s World Cup Matches

FIFA did the right thing for once!

By Benjamin Cassidy June 16, 2022

Under a twilight sky, the MLS Cup glows outside Pike Place Market.

The MLS Cup has already taken up residence here. Now we're going global.

Image: Jane Sherman

Sixty years after a transformational World’s Fair, Seattle learned today that it would host another international spectacle—the men’s World Cup.

During a televised announcement from New York City, FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani fulfilled some long-held local soccer fan dreams when he pulled Seattle’s name out of a blue envelope. It’s the first time our city has ever hosted soccer’s biggest event, which includes 11 U.S. host cities in 2026. “This is perhaps the biggest day for the sport of soccer in the history of our region,” Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer said in a statement after the ceremony.

The decision comes four years after soccer’s international governing body announced North America as the host continent and eight months after the “SEA 2026” bid officially launched. But the campaign has been years in the making as the Sounders and Reign have grown rabid fan bases. “It’s known for its 12th fan in another sport,” Montagliani said. “It’s the loudest event that you’ve ever been at.”

Sounders fans must have made quite the impression when FIFA president Gianni Infantino visited for the squad’s roaring CONCACAF Champions League triumph in front of a record 68,741 partisans on a rainy Wednesday in May. The big-name-backers behind Seattle’s bid have undoubtedly been bending ears for months, too. (Well, maybe not Russ and Ciara.) Sounders minority owner Drew Carey submitted a DIY video for the announcement broadcast, the screen reflecting in his signature specs. “Scarves up, everybody!” the comedian closed.

Today’s news wasn’t a stunner by any stretch. At least one expert said our thriving soccer culture basically made us a lock, but forgive us for being a bit cautious; FIFA doesn’t have the greatest track record with this stuff, to put it mildly.

Now local leaders can start prepping for matches that could net us as much as $100 million in economic activity, per Visit Seattle. That will depend on how many games are actually played at Lumen Field, as well as the prohibitive costs that can accompany hosting such a large event. Early reports suggest Vancouver, the only Canadian site in the West region, could host six matches.

But we can worry about those details (and all the traffic) later. On a day when saying goodbye to our city’s sports GOAT drew closer, today’s World Cup announcement—coupled with the news that the Reign have added national team star Tobin Heath—gives us more reason to be excited for Seattle’s sports future.

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