2026 World Cup to see big boost in economic and league popularity for MLS, Host Cities
Co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, Irwin Kishner, spoke to amNY about FIFA's selection of the 11 cites to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup Games and the resulting economic considerations.
The article acknowledged the steep expenses associated with hosting the World Cup, but Kishner explained that "while there are instances of countries struggling economically after hosting the World Cup, the benefits far outweigh the risks."
Kishner reflected, "[t]hese contests, if they are promoted properly, can be a nice economic boost to the venues that host it... Provided you already have the infrastructures in place, and my understanding is that all these host cities do, it’s not a major capital investment like building an Olympic venue."
Revenue from TV contracts and ticket sales is retained by the FIFA organization, rather than the hosts, but Kishner noted that this does not tell the whole story on the financial benefits for cities: "The fact that a World Cup is going to be in Kansas City, bringing international renown to a venue which will have a lasting impact. I think there’s an associated benefit that gets produced as a result of hosting a World Cup… When a person comes and sees a match and stays in a city for two nights, there’s hotel and travel that FIFA gets nothing of."
He reflected on how the U.S. will be hosting the games in 11 cities, stating, "I think it promotes and enhances the sport. It gets more local participation in the sport," adding, "It’s very important to continue to build the brand of soccer. In 1994, MLS was just starting up, soccer was a secondary consideration."
The article noted that, in the U.S., soccer and the Major League Soccer organization are not as popular as other sports and leagues. Kishner highlighted, "I mean soccer is the predominant international game. Part of the popularity of the MLS was because of the World Cup playing in 1994, and the women’s team winning the gold. Having the greater reach in multiple jurisdictions is a smart move and will only help."
The piece concluded with soccer executives' hopes that the sport will see a surge in popularity in the U.S. when the games are hosted in local cities, but noted "that the economic benefits of hosting the event, will also come under question in the near future."