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LA is preparing to bid for 2026 World Cup

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The city could play a big role in hosting if the competition comes to North America

View of the Rose Bowl
The Rose Bowl hosted all eight games played in the LA area during the 1994 World Cup.
Joseph Sohm | Shutterstock

The World Cup may be headed back to North America in 2026, and Los Angeles leaders are seeking to ensure the city plays a role in hosting the enormously popular soccer competition.

On Monday, the city council’s Budget and Finance Committee took the first step in bringing competition to the city, asking city staffers to prepare a report on the bidding process for the event.

In June, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which oversees the World Cup, will decide whether to award the competition to Morocco or to Canada, the U.S., and Mexico—which submitted a joint North American bid.

If the latter bid prevails, those three nations would be responsible for hosting a total of 80 games played over a roughly one-month period. A total of 32 cities, including Los Angeles, in all three countries are being considered as host sites for the games—should the North American bid succeed.

At least 12 of those cities would host at least one event, and former U.S. Soccer president Alan Rothenberg told the committee it would be “inconceivable” if some of those matches were not be held in the LA area.

Less clear is whether any events would be held in the city itself. In 1994, when World Cup events were last held in the United States, all eight games in the LA area took place at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. Inglewood’s under-construction NFL Stadium and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum are also in contention this time around.

But plans for the competition may not be limited to picking venues. The committee also asked officials to examine how to position Los Angeles as the best candidate for the global media headquarters during the games.

According to the motion approved by the committee Monday, more than $80 million could be pumped into the local economy during the event if the city serves as the media’s base of operations during the competition.

Rothenberg also told the committee that plans were in the works for a “30-day fan event” that would attract visitors even on days when games were taking place in other parts of the continent.

Planning for the World Cup is still in the very early stages, but already the prospect of another major sporting event on the horizon is drawing criticism from some LA residents.

Steve Ducey, a member of the NOlympics LA group opposed to the city’s commitment to host the 2028 Olympic games, tells Curbed he’s worried about “collateral damage” from the city’s efforts to host World Cup events—including the costs associated with hosting and the elevated levels of security that would be required.

He also says dealing with FIFA—an organization frequently mired in scandal—is bad optics. “Why are we doing business with them?” he asks.