After multi-year effort by Cincinnati leaders to secure a 2026 FIFA World Cup game, FIFA broke the bad news Thursday: the Queen City would not be getting its crown.
FIFA, which oversees world soccer, announced its 16 World Cup host cities on June 16, and Cincinnati was not selected. Baltimore/Washington, D.C., Orlando, Nashville, Denver and Edmonton also were denied.
The Queen City launched its bid to host 2026 World Cup matches back in 2017.
Cincinnati officials who led the World Cup effort insisted that the city will continue to be in contention for other major events.
"Even though our 2026 Cincy Local Organizing Committee, our community and our partners put together a flawless bid package, Cincinnati fell short in its efforts to become a host city for FIFA World Cup 2026,” Jeff Berding, co-CEO of FC Cincinnati and the local World Cup bid committee, said after the decision. “I want to personally thank this community, our county and city government officials along with our corporate and civic leaders for supporting us in our efforts to bring the World Cup to Cincinnati."
"Even though this bid may not have been successful, I feel the process has set us up for future successful bids that will enhance our city and raise our international profile," Berding continued. "We showed that the new Cincinnati is an ambitious city that competes for world class events, so this isn’t the end of this process - it’s just the beginning of more to come. So stay tuned, and don’t sleep on Cincinnati."
Other officials throughout Greater Cincinnati and Ohio expressed similar sentiments.
"It was an honor to be in the running for the FIFA World Cup 2026, and the spotlight on Cincinnati as a potential host city provided a platform to show all that Cincinnati has to offer to an international audience," Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said through a press release. “While this is not the outcome we hoped for, Cincinnati remains a strong option for any future world-class sporting event. We look forward to watching with the rest of the world and cheering on the USMNT in the 2022 World Cup."
"I could not be more proud of the city of Cincinnati, our community partners and our fans for supporting this bid to be a host city for FIFA World Cup 2026," Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval said. "We showed the world what Cincinnati is, and is capable of being in the future. We can’t wait for the next opportunity that will showcase our community to an international audience."
"It is disappointing that we did not win the bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. But we did show the world that we can come together to do big things," Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus posted to Twitter.
Some local sports teams lamented FIFA's decision to skip Cincinnati, including the Bengals – whose Paul Brown Stadium would have been where the World Cup match had been played – and FC Cincinnati, the area's Major League Soccer team.
It is disappointing that we did not win the bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. But we did show the world that we can come together to do big things.— Denise Driehaus (@DeniseDriehaus) June 16, 2022
Looking forward to the next opportunity to dream big, together! @fccincinnati @Bengals @CityOfCincy @kroger @ProcterGamble
Cincinnati's elimination means that there will be just one World Cup game in the Midwest – Kansas City, which is more than eight hours away. Many news anchors, sports writers and fans noted the big gap in this area of the country where no games will be played or even realistically accessible.
Although Cincinnati won’t be hosting a World Cup game, thank you Hamilton County Commissioners for trying to show the world what we already know: Cincinnati is a world-class city. We are lucky to call it home 🧡 pic.twitter.com/UUq94mnApS— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) June 16, 2022
Major disappointment that KC is the only midwest city hosting World Cup matches in 2026, and even that's a stretch.— Chris Widlic (@Chris_Widlic) June 16, 2022
Kansas City is the only central city in the US or Canada. @FIFAWorldCup with the big middle finger to non-costal soccer fans. Chicago, Nashville, Cincinnati, Denver, St. Louis? All suitable cities with stadiums. I guess they needed overlap in Sea/Van, Dal/Hou, Bos/NY/Phi markets. https://t.co/ax4xNA5FaS— Kyle (@ksrober) June 16, 2022
I’m one of those die hard Cincy people who is actually confused on why KC was selected over Cincinnati as a World Cup host city. We have 4 times the population within 125 miles. Our stadium is within a short walk of a ton of bars, restaurants, and hotels. KC is a parking lot. pic.twitter.com/KOHI3ynUUA— Henry Frondorf (@HenryFrondorf) June 16, 2022
Soccer world: Sees Columbus and Cincinnati have crazy soccer fan bases.— Tim Bielik (@timbielik) June 16, 2022
FIFA: No World Cup matches within 6 hours of the state of Ohio.
Makes perfect sense. https://t.co/Q2Z01DAH9S
Some noted that the U.S. Men's National Team and U.S. Women's National Team have chosen Cincinnati as hosts for multiple matches. In 2021, Cincinnati was named as one of the best soccer cities in the United States. That year, TQL Stadium played host to the USMNT's 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Mexico, plus the USWNT (featuring Cincinnati’s own Rose Lavelle) trounced Paraguay during an international friendly there. The USMNT match was the region's biggest tourism weekend since the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, officials said in November.
Excellent, looking forward to #FifaWorldCup2026, but disappointed that the Cincinnati/Dayton/Columbus area didn't make the cut. This region's LOVE for soccer could have used the TLC of hosting a couple of World Cup games. ⚽🥅 https://t.co/4l5JmtBkZD— Luis Carlos Diaz (@catire98) June 16, 2022
Ohio cities are simply not going to get picked for major events with their current state of public transit offerings— Tyler Buchanan (@Tylerjoelb) June 16, 2022
Some thought that FIFA could still end up using regional training facilities, but fans may be too stung to entertain that right now.
Looks like no World Cup for Cincinnati. We must continue to invest in public transportation. Now that Hamilton County has the funding, we need to make this a regional system that connects Cincinnati to Dayton— Cam 🚍🚍🚌🚏 (@camhardy513) June 16, 2022
Still others put a more positive spin on the situation.
FIFA: Hey, I know you didn’t get the bid to host World Cup games but would you like to host a team and allow them to train at MHTC?— Travis Grimes (@ComeOnYouFCC) June 16, 2022
Cincinnati: Lol, no.
I hope that’s the conversation. Get fucked @FIFAWorldCup.
Cincinnati is a World-Class City.- with or WITHOUT the World Cup.— Tony Castelli (@Castelli_unltd) June 16, 2022
By 2026 - with the historic momentum behind The Banks, OTR, and City as a whole- @FIFAWorldCup will be WISHING they had chosen us as a host city.
Keep your head up Queen City, your crown might fall off.❤️🤝
Plus there's always... well... this...
Don’t fret #Cincinnati about @FIFAWorldCup. Fresh bids are already in for the…#WorldCup of #Sustainability#WorldCup of #Startup Ecosystems#WorldCup of Inclusive #Fintech #WorldCup of #eCommerce#WorldCup of #Resilience #StartupCincy pic.twitter.com/7qxqqSKL6N— Pete Blackshaw (@pblackshaw) June 16, 2022
These are the cities that FIFA selected as 2026 World Cup hosts:
Cincinnati has now lost bids to host the Olympics and the World Cup.— David Cornelius (@david_cornelius) June 16, 2022
Don't worry, Queen City, we'll always have the RC Cola AAA Minor League Regional Cornhole Semifinals. https://t.co/CBp0EEBQPj
New York/New Jersey
In 2026, for the first time in history, 48 teams will compete in World Cup in contests held across the United States, Canada and Mexico, rather than in the current 32-team competition structure.
FIFA's 2022 World Cup will take place Nov. 21-Dec. 18 in Qatar.