Soccer

World Cup accepts Boston bid for 2026, will play games in Foxborough

Gillette Stadium will reportedly replace its turf field with natural grass for the event.

Boston World Cup
Fans wait along 6ht Ave. for FIFA's announcement of the names of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup soccer tournament in New York. AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

The 2026 World Cup is officially coming to Boston (sort of).

On Thursday, FIFA announced host cities for the 2026 World Cup, which included Boston. Games will be played in Foxborough at Gillette Stadium.

Robert Kraft’s pitch — which referenced Foxborough’s previous successful stint as a host city in 1994 — appears to have been well received.

“We look forward to hosting, hopefully, six games here and the quarterfinals like we did back in ‘94 when we had Italy versus Spain,” Kraft said in September. “We look forward to the World Cup in 2026 coming right here to Gillette Stadium.”

Per a press release, FIFA evaluated potential host cities based on infrastructure, transportation (airports, train, roadways), human rights, stadium infrastructure, fan fest locations, and training sites.

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Boston/Foxborough joined New York, Philadelphia and Miami as east locations. Atlanta, Kansas City, Dallas, and Houston all represent the middle of the country, while locations in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are included as well. Vancouver and Toronto were accepted as host cities in Canada. Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Mexico City will host games in Mexico.

Neither Washington D.C. nor Ottawa was chosen, marking just the second and third times a nation’s capital city wasn’t chosen to host games. The other was Tokyo in 2002, although nearby cities were hosts that year.

Boston mayor Michelle Wu expressed excitement at the news on Thursday.

“We’re proud of our long legacy of championship teams and fans, and we’re ready to showcase our city to soccer fans around the world as they come to celebrate the beautiful game,” Wu wrote in a press release.

Governor Charlie Baker singled out Kraft specifically as a reason games will be played in Massachusetts.

“We are appreciative of Robert Kraft for his efforts as Honorary Chair of the United Bid to help bring the World Cup back to the United States, as well as the Boston Soccer 2026 Committee for its tireless work to secure Boston as a host city,” Baker wrote in a press release.

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Gillette Stadium reportedly has a plan in place to replace its turf surface with natural grass for the event.

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