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Cincinnati makes its case to be 2026 World Cup host city

 Cincinnati sports' team mascot play with an oversized soccer ball as FIFA officials vet the Queen City as a possible 2026 World Cup venue. [Tana Weingartner /  WVXU]
Cincinnati sports' team mascot play with an oversized soccer ball as FIFA officials vet the Queen City as a possible 2026 World Cup venue.

Updated: 4:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 22, 2021

A delegation from international soccer's governing body, FIFA, and U.S. Soccer visited Cincinnati Friday, Oct. 22. They're vetting the city as a possible host site for the 2026 World Cup.

Cincinnati is one of 17 cities in the U.S. bidding to host soccer's biggest event.

The delegation toured Paul Brown Stadium and possible training and Fan Fest locations. Games in Cincinnati would be held at the American football Stadium, which forecasts a soccer capacity of 60,294, rather than the much smaller TQL Stadium.

"I don't believe any other place you stop you'll have three states that'll want to pull together the way that we're going to pull together," said Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, adding the entire state of Ohio is rallying around the bid.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear agreed, noting the number of fans who showed up to support the bid presentation despite rain that fell during an afternoon news conference.

"Nobody can do this thing like we can, and while we wish we had better weather today for you, we're showing - rain or shine - we will fill these stadiums."

Procter and Gamble CEO David Taylor and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen took turns expressing the business community's commitment to making and World Cup games in Cincinnati a success, too.

"Message received," replied Colin Smith, FIFA's chief tournaments & events officer. He notes that while the committee reviews a lot a requirements, "Ultimately, the World Cup is delivered by people and that's what's been great to see here today, how everyone has pulled together across the Tri-State and wants to host the World Cup here."

His counterpart, CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani, dismissed any concerns about the rain, noting "This is great fútbol weather."

"What's been striking to me is the authenticity of your community. ... We have our work to do, we have our job to due, we have to do our due diligence, we have to make some very difficult decisions, but, at the end of the day, I want to thank you for the authenticity that you've shown to my FIFA family and my FIFA staff."

The United States is jointly hosting the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico. It's unclear if the U.S. will name 10 or 11 host cities. It was set to name 10, with Canada and Mexico naming three each. However, Montreal, Canada, withdrew from the process in July.

FIFA has said a decision could be made by early next year.

Other U.S. cities in the running are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

The local organizing committee is encouraged fans to wear soccer jerseys or red, white and blue, and turn out for several events designed to show off the city's passion for the sport.

Here's the schedule provided by Game Day Communications:

2 p.m. – Free LaRosa’s pizza on Walnut at Freedom Way, first beer free (21+) at the Moerlein Lager House, live music by the Cincinnati Music Accelerator and the DORA District at The Banks is open

2:45 p.m. – FC Cincinnati supporters gather at Walnut and Freedom to march the 32 country flags of the last World Cup played in 2018 to Paul Brown Stadium. All welcome to join the march

3-3:30 p.m. – FIFA Press Conference at Paul Brown Stadium, Gate D, at Elm Street

3-5 p.m. – 2026 Cincy Street Party continues

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