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Final push now underway to bring World Cup soccer to the South Bay

Final push now underway to bring World Cup soccer to the South Bay
Photo Credit: santaclaraca.gov
By Wesley Severson - Published on October 29, 2021.

The final push to bring 2026 World Cup soccer matches to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is now underway. A delegation from the World Cup’s governing body, FIFA, is in the South Bay this weekend to check out the stadium facilities and the region as a whole. Officials from CONCACAF, which governs US Soccer, are also here to see the grounds. According to KPIX, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is being joined by the mayors of Oakland and San Francisco to host the delegation and help deliver the pitch to bring the games to Levi’s. 

“The South Bay has a rich history in hosting international soccer and boasts the world-class venues needed to get the job done in 2026. We also have the infrastructure and passion needed to leverage the economic boost the event would bring to the area for the long-term development of soccer,” Mayor Liccardo said in a statement posted by KPIX. Front office members of the San Francisco 49ers and leaders of Bay Area mega-tech firms like Google, Salesforce, Airbnb, and Visa will also join the group to help showcase Levi’s Stadium as a perfect World Cup fit. 

“The excitement and community spirit unique to the Bay Area has been directed at soccer for generations, going back to the FIFA World Cup matches the area hosted in 1994 and 1999, which were a huge success,” 49ers President Al Guido said in a statement posted by Mercury News. “There’s no doubt in my mind the 2026 FIFA World Cup would inspire an even bigger response, and we’re honored to be leading the Bay Area’s bid to host this exciting, crowd-drawing event,” Guido says.

As for the 2026 World Cup tournament itself, it will be played in a new format with games being played in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It’s the first time the games will be split between three different nations. There will also be 48 teams instead of 32 teams, which is how next year’s World Cup in Qatar is structured. As SFist reported, a total of 16 cities will be selected to host matches throughout the month of June 2026 — and San Francisco last served as a host city for the World Cup in 1994. Three cities in Mexico are vying to host, along with only two in Canada, Edmonton and Toronto. The other U.S. cities in the running include Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, and Atlanta.

We won’t know if Levi’s will be chosen until early next year when the delegation is expected to select around 10 U.S. cities where 60 World Cup matches would take place. Met Life Stadium in New Jersey has already been selected as the location of the final match of the tournament. Only ten matches will be played in Canada and Mexico. According to KPIX, the Bay Area representatives are expected to show the delegation around PayPal Park in San Jose where the Earthquakes play. The stadium could possibly be used as a training ground for World Cup teams if SF/Santa Clara gets picked as a host city.