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Cincinnati could host World Cup soccer matches in 2026

FC Cincinnati thought it achieved its goal of bringing the highest level of soccer to the Queen City with a Major League Soccer franchise set to begin play in 2019, but it could get even bigger than that.

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Cincinnati is among the 23 cities that could host World Cup games in 2026 after the 68th FIFA Congress’ voted Wednesday morning in Moscow to select the United Bid of Canada, Mexico and the United States as the site for the 80-game tournament eight years from now.

FIFA Congress voted 134-65 in favor of the United Bid over Morocco, marking the first time three nations have been selected to co-host a Word Cup and the first time the tournament will be played in North America in 32 years. The 2018 FIFA World Cup begins Thursday in Russia.

A total of 16 cities will be chosen to host games in 2026 from the 23 finalists. If selected, Cincinnati would hold games at Paul Brown Stadium, which holds a seating capacity of 65,515. Miami and Los Angeles already have been guaranteed to host.

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“The soccer movement continues to thrive here in the Queen City,” FC Cincinnati president and co-chair of the Cincinnati Local Organizing Committee Jeff Berding told WCPO.com in March. “FC Cincinnati has become a draw for top professional soccer players, strengthening the level and profile of soccer. The continued collaboration with Cincinnati businesses and community partners is evidence of our city’s ability to harness the passion that exists for soccer and utilize it to promote the sport as well as benefit our region.

“There is no greater thrill than the prospect of hosting the 2026 World Cup and we are confident that Cincinnati will be a shining example of the soccer movement on the global stage.”

Berding is expected to comment more today during a press conference at Nippert Stadium prior to FC Cincinnati’s home United Soccer League match against Bethlehem Steel.

The United Bid is expected to generate more than $14 billion in revenue and $11 billion in profits for FIFA, which will be shared with the 211 FIFA Member Associations, helping further develop and expand the game of football across the globe.

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