JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - U.S. soccer officials believe Jacksonville is "a strong candidate" when it comes to possibly hosting a match in the 2026 FIFA World Cup, according to a letter obtained by First Coast News.
The U.S. Soccer Federation and the 2026 United Bid Committee for Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are asking U.S. cities to submit proposals in the upcoming months as part of a larger bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
According to a letter obtained by First Coast News, Sunil Gulati, President of the U.S. Soccer Federation, is informing major U.S cities, including Jacksonville, of U.S. Soccer’s intention to embark on a joint bid with Mexico and Canada for the 2026 World Cup.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry received the letter on July 10.
The letter reads that 80 matches will be played over a 30-day period featuring a record of 48 nations. This would be the first-time Mexico, Canada and the U.S. have submitted a joint bid.
“We have an outstanding community and support soccer," said Tony Allegretti, a life-long soccer fan and Jacksonville resident. “This is a real international effort.”
“We anticipate a high degree of interest from major cities seeking to be part of the final bid submission,” Gulati wrote in the letter to Mayor Curry. “We believe Jacksonville is a strong candidate for participation in this process, given your support of soccer, stadium facilities, and the related tourism infrastructure you already have in place.”
“We have everything you would want if you were trying to set up a tournament,” Allegretti said.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office told First Coast News they have no information to provide at this time.
The Jacksonville Sports Council also declined comment.
A source close to the process did say, however, that “this is an exciting opportunity, but it is too early in the process to know if the city will submit a bid.”
Jacksonville hosted a World Cup qualifying match in 2016.
Guidelines for submitting a bid are expected to be released next month.
If the city is successful in securing a World Cup match bid, Allegretti said it could take Jacksonville to a new level.
“The eyes of the world will be on Everbank," he said.