The United States has the unprecedented opportunity to host three successive sporting events on the world stage.
The FIFA World Cup is coming to the United States in 2026 via a shared host with Mexico and Canada. Then, two years later, Los Angeles hosted its third Summer Olympics. Hosting the World Cup and the Olympics over a two-year period is nothing new for the United States. After the 1994 Olympics, Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Games.
The United States is not the only country to do so. Brazil 2014 preceded the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. Additionally, the 1972 Summer Games in Munich preceded the 1974 World Cup, hosted by West Germany.
Yet what sets the United States apart from 2026-2028 is the possibility of adding a third major tournament.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup, the premier sporting event for women’s sports outside of the Summer and Winter Olympics, is looking for its host in 2027. Although the 2027 edition is only the tenth in the history of the competition, the United States hosted tournaments consecutively in 1999 and 2003.
Although nothing is official, US Soccer has previously expressed interest in hosting the tournament. An official offer has not yet been made, and it is possible that the United States is looking at 2031 as the year to host the competition. Even then, it is still possible that the United States will host three successive sporting events that are the biggest in the world.
Here’s what it would mean if USA managed to win all three tournaments.
The United States hosts three successive sporting events on the world stage
While the United States is quite accustomed to hosting major sporting events, hosting so many in a short period of time could put a strain on the country.
However, the United States is perhaps the sports-centric nation in the world. Facilities and stadiums abound. Also, travel between cities should be more than doable.
Of course, US sizing makes this a little trickier. For example, in the 1994 World Cup, South Korea started the group stage in Dallas against Spain. Then, six days later, South Korea were in Massachusetts to face Bolivia. Four days later, the Koreans were back in Dallas against Germany.
In 2014, Brazil built and renovated 12 stadiums. Brazil has spent between $220 million and $330 million to build some of the most lavish stadiums in the world. Just a few years away from the tournament, these stadiums collapsed. Not literally, per se, but the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha made headlines for turning into a bus depot not even a year after the World Cup.
In the United States, the extensive use of large stadiums by the NFL and college football would reduce the expense needed to update stadiums. Yes, it needs updates. For example, meeting modern needs in a place like FedEx Field in Washington, DC, or adapting certain NFL stadiums to football fields.
However, there are rarely times in the United States when these stadiums are not in use. The NFL season could bring setbacks to ensure these stadiums are up to snuff, but FIFA will surely make sure that happens.
Thom Meredith, who worked as operations at various stadiums for the 1994 World Cup, 1996 Olympics and 1999 Women’s World Cup, among other competitions, said FIFA requires stadiums to be dark for three months before the World Cup and one month after.
“In my experience“, said Meredith, “the only way for stadiums to overcome this is for NFL owners to band together and tell FIFA executives ‘we’re not doing this’‘.”
The 2028 Summer Olympics are only taking place in Los Angeles. Therefore, only the Rose Bowl, LA Coliseum and SoFi Stadium would be used for these games if necessary. The Rose Bowl, however, which saw Brandi Chastain score the winning penalty against China, would be a potential host for matches in all three competitions due to its history.
The Rose Bowl has the experience of clearing a number of games in a short period of time. It epitomizes the popularity and size of Los Angeles. However, he could face fatigue just like the fans in the United States.
Sport is a constant in the US, but putting three successive month-long sporting events in the same country could prove detrimental to overall enjoyment. With a country going from the World Cup to the Olympics two years later, or vice versa, it’s different. With the Olympics, a city basks in the glory of being the viewpoint of the world for two weeks. Meanwhile, the expansive nature of the World Cup over one country, or three in the case of 2026, dives into cities for no more than five games.
Fan fatigue from the massive influx of visitors from other countries could be a real concern for Americans.
Thom Meredith mentioned that this is a once in a lifetime experience. Some will feel obliged to go there so as not to miss the festivities. Therefore, someone in Los Angeles will spend hundreds on tickets to the Men’s World Cup, Women’s World Cup and Olympics, all over a three-year period. Then consider other people from all over the United States, who then have to spend money on plane tickets or other transportation to get to those major events.
Fatigue also exists with the sponsors and TV broadcasters in charge of the event. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are the main sponsors of FIFA and the Olympic Games. Companies shell out millions of dollars in competitions. However, in the three potential successive sporting events, these sponsors largely reached the same audience.
Hosting three successive sporting events on the scale of the World Cup and the Olympics means one thing, even if they are the same sponsors.
“It’s quite simple. It sounds crude, but that’s part of it. Money. It’s television, viewers. It’s a great country event. people come here [to the U.S.]people spend their time here.“
Money is at the forefront of why the United States would want to water these events. Yes, it’s a chance to show off the nation’s sporting prowess. However, since this country is so easily accessible for so many people, the benefits are considerable.
This is especially true considering that the infrastructure in the United States is among the best in the world. There are certainly examples of necessary improvements. Los Angeles is no exception. Well-documented examples of traffic around town and a $14 billion upgrade to LAX are things for organizers to keep in mind.
Yet the main flaw of the United States which hosts the World Cup, the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics is the distance between cities. The United States does not have to spend billions on stadiums like Brazil, Russia and Qatar. Undoubtedly, billions will be spent, such is the nature of hosting major tournaments.
Yet no country is better equipped to meet this potential challenge than the United States. The bid for the 2027 Women’s World Cup does not yet have a start date. However, if the United States releases a statement of intent, it could signal the possibility of a massively busy three years in the United States.