A contingent of officials from FIFA are in New Jersey on Tuesday, scouting the area as a site for the 2026 World Cup.
The group will take a tour of MetLife Stadium and get presentations on all the state has to offer — everything from numerous training facilities to locations to hold fan festivals to examples of the state’s cultural diversity, including our world-class restaurants.
FIFA officials, however, already know most of this — and New Jersey certainly will play host to a number of matches.
The bigger purpose of the visit may be to determine if MetLife Stadium will host the final.
The visit will be brief, approximately 24 hours. FIFA officials arrived in New Jersey late Monday night and will leave by the end of Tuesday. The group is expected to visit more than a dozen sites interested in hosting games in the coming weeks.
New Jersey is considered to be among three finalists to host the final, the most-watched sporting event in the world, by far. Los Angeles and Dallas also are believed to be top contenders for the game.
Here are 5 reasons why it makes sense for New Jersey to get the final:
- Big-game/event experience: During the 1994 World Cup, New Jersey hosted four group stage matches and three knockout stage matches, including a semifinal. MetLife hosted the Super Bowl in 2014.
- Culture: No area in the country can match the state’s ethnic diversity, both in fan support and food and cultural events.
- East Coast location: Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but its biggest fan base comes from Europe, which has numerous nonstop flights from every major city to the area.
- Biggest game in town: Los Angeles, which is hosting the Olympics in 2026, has said one event will roll into the other — much as it did in 2014-16, when the World Cup and Olympics were both held in Brazil. Some are concerned that having two big events back-to-back will lessen the emphasis given to both.
- Phil Murphy: Everyone at FIFA knows that Murphy, the former ambassador to Germany, is a huge soccer fan, owns a soccer team (Gotham FC of the women’s league) and seemingly will support the bid with more gusto than any other elected official.
During the visit Tuesday, the groups will divide into various trips, with some heading to MetLife and others checking out the numerous training facilities in the area, including the Red Bulls’ facility in Whippany along with facilities connected to Pingry School, Rutgers University and Kean University.
The decision on which venue will host the final is expected to be announced in January.