Since FIFA President Gianna Infantino announced that the 2026 World Cup would be coming to North America, 23 cities have been competing to become a host city and benefit from the potential windfall that comes with such a world-renowned event. However, others have opted to sit out and not fight to host potential World Cup matches in the summer of 2026. This is due to the negative impact that such an event can have. Many believe that the harm outweighs the potential benefits.
The world cup in Brazil 2014 can be used as a learning example. Here it cost the nation $15 billion to host, with many promises and plans failing to materialise. There were plans for new bullet trains and airports to improve the dwindling economy, where instead vast amounts of money were pumped into building brand new stadia to host the games. Former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff came under extreme pressures from the public as growing frustrations at the allocation of funding spurned riots in the streets of Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro. The public became enraged at the lack of funding towards local cities as the poverty gap widened further in Brazil. These frustrations eventually resulted in the impeachment of Rousseff and her removal from office in August 2016.
Chief economists in the United States have warned that a similar event that happened in Brazil could occur in their own country for 2026. For example, many of the locations for the Brazil world cup were placed in obscure locations such as Manaus, a city nestled in the Amazon rainforest. These cities served little or no purpose except for hosting the matches, the local economies failed to sustain any benefits, four years on from the world cup being held. Many economists in the USA fear that the same mistakes may be replicated in 2026. They warn that pumping money into a city on the rust belt, with no history of soccer, will inevitably result in failure.
Experts have insisted that keeping infrastructure costs low as a key success factor to hosting the games. When the USA previously hosted the World Cup in 1994 it only spent $5 million on stadiums, compared to Brazil’s figure of $3.6 billion. A major bonus for the USA is the fact that 15 of the 17 potential stadiums are home to NFL franchises. They are already up to the required international standards and have always had the potential to host soccer games. Forecasting believes the events will generate in the region of $5 billion to the economy for short-term activity.
However, many involved remain cautious. FIFA has broken promises before and Chicago has now since pulled out of the running to become a host city. They requested a dome be placed over their stadium, soldier field, a proposal which was rejected. But Miami representatives remain upbeat about the prospects of hosting such a global event. Miami has a history of hosting Superbowls and will host its eleventh in 2020, event organisers believe will generate millions of dollars for the economy, something the world cup could look to emulate. Planning is in place and excitement is building, but the negative effects of Brazil 2014 provide a timely reminder of how not to approach the world’s biggest sporting showpiece.Advertisement