ORLANDO, Fla. - The FIFA World Cup is looking for a host city in 2026 and Orlando could be at the top of their list.
17 cities across the United States are being considered, including Orlando. 11 will eventually be picked for the World Cup games.
If Orlando was chosen, the move is expected to bring about $800 million worth of economic impact for the Central Florida area.
Officials from FIFA, Concacaf, and the U.S. Soccer Federation all met with city and county leaders on Saturday as Orlando made its pitch for hosting World Cup matches. They also had tours of local venues that were pitched as game day and practice facilities for teams during the tournament.
"Our pitch has been that we do this every single day, we attract 76 million visitors annually to Orlando so all of the assets that we have in place make this the perfect place to host the World Cup," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.
"There's probably not another city around the nation that experience beyond just the games but in terms of all the various amenities that we have to offer," Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings added.
Orlando City Soccer star Kaka even helped make Orlando’s pitch for the games. He said the world already knows the city's potential as a soccer powerhouse, adding that "how big it's going to be is the challenge… but it's already on the map."
If Orlando is chosen, this will not be the first time that Orlando has hosted World Cup games. In 1994, games were held at Camping World Stadium.
"So far it's been a good experience for us, and we look forward to working with Orlando to finish off the process," said Victor Montagliani, FIFA Vice President.
FIFA officials are expected to pick the final list of host cities early next year. The organization picked Canada, Mexico, and the United States to host World Cup matches in 2026. This is the first time that three countries will host the games and it will be the largest World Cup tournament in history with 48 teams taking part.
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