Atlanta chosen as host city for 2026 World Cup

Darren Eales, President of Atlanta United FC, President of Mercedes-Benz Dietmar Exler, Katie Kirkpatrick, Gov. Brian Kemp, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Dan Corso, William Pate, and Carlos Bocanegra pose for a photograph after a news conference where FIFA announces Atlanta as a 2026 World Cup host city on Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The World Cup is coming to Atlanta in 2026.

The city was selected Tuesday as one of 16 host cities for the 48-team tournament to be played four years from now. It’s the first time World Cup games will be played in Georgia.

Atlanta was chosen from among 22 host city finalists in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The last time the World Cup was played in North America was in 1994.

The announcement was made during a live TV broadcast Thursday evening from New York City.

A delegation from FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, visited Atlanta in September to tour Mercedes-Benz Stadium and other facilities in Atlanta. At the time, the officials spoke of Atlanta United’s record-setting home crowds, the quality of the stadium and training facilities, and the accessibility of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“Atlanta is a soccer town, and we’re excited to bring the game’s best athletes to the world’s best city,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens in a statement. “Atlanta has already been home to the Super Bowl and the Olympics, and through our strong collaboration with the state and our business community, we will welcome folks from all over the world to fill every seat in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2026.”

World Cup Atlanta
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, standing alongside Gov. Brian Kemp, receives congratulations after Atlanta was awarded World Cup matches in 2026. (Emil Moffatt/WABE News)

Other cities selected to host include Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Guadalajara in the west; Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Mexico City and Monterrey in the central; and Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and New York/New Jersey.

While some projections place the economic impact of hosting the World Cup in the hundreds of millions per city, there is debate over whether revenues from such sporting events can actually offset expenses.

“We have the pleasure of celebrating Atlanta’s selection as a host city of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, because of our strong, bipartisan public-private partnerships and many who have been working for years to put Georgia on the map since we hosted the 1996 Olympics,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “This premier event will have a positive impact on so many hardworking Georgians.”

The last time the World Cup was played in North America was in 1994, when the U.S. was host. Forty-eight teams will take part in the tournament in 2026.

This year’s World Cup will be played in November in Qatar.