FIFA President Giovanni Infantino met with key political, business and hospitality leaders in New Jersey and New York on Monday — gatherings that were intended to give area representatives one more chance to make a pitch to host the final of the 2026 World Cup, a source familiar with the meetings told ROI-NJ.
Infantino met with Gov. Phil Murphy and New York City Mayor Eric Adams and a host of other business and hospitality leaders in the region, said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the meetings.
The groups made visits to locations in both New Jersey and New York, the person said.
What impact the meetings will have on the coveted selection is unclear — but the fact that they happened appears to cast doubt on a media report earlier this month that said FIFA had decided to play the final in Dallas.
New Jersey (MetLife Stadium), Dallas (AT&T Stadium) and Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium) are the three areas competing to host the final. A decision is expected to be announced Sunday.
The World Cup final is the most watched sporting event in the world, trouncing even the Super Bowl for viewers. The 2022 final, when Argentina defeated France in penalty kicks, was watched by an estimated audience of 1.5 billion people.
Having it played in New Jersey obviously would be great promotion and branding for the state and the region.
Murphy, long acknowledged as a big soccer supporter, has been pushing aggressively to bring the final to New Jersey. The only other time the World Cup came to the U.S., in 1994, the old Giants Stadium hosted a number of games, including a semifinal. The final was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Regardless of whether MetLife Stadium is awarded the final, FIFA already announced that it will host numerous games.
The event will be held in the U.S., Mexico and Canada — with the large majority of the games being played in the U.S.