Lizzette Marquez knows what she’s doing eight summers from now.
“I have plans in the summer for 2026 already. We’re getting the World Cup!” said Santa Rosa resident Marquez, a huge fan — and player — of the game.
Early Wednesday, FIFA announced North America will host the 2026 World Cup, giving fans in the United States, Mexico and Canada the chance to see worldwide futbol in their own backyard.
“I’m having crazy ideas about saving all this money so I can travel to all three countries,” Marquez said. “It’s going to be so cool and exciting.”
The shared United bid won over another proposal from Morocco for the first 48-team World Cup. It will be the first one shared by three nations.
While many details of the monthlong tournament are yet to be finalized, it is proposed that 60 games be played in the United States, with Mexico and Canada hosting 10 each, although FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that could change.
Even better, some of those games could be in the Bay Area.
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is among 18 sites under consideration for a game or games in the tournament. That list will be narrowed to 11 stadiums in the next two years.
It will be the first time since 1994 that World Cup games will be played in the United States.
For Mike Parks, a leader of the Santa Rosa band of American Outlaws (the American national team supporters) the tournament could mean a bucket-list checkoff.
“In 1994, I happened to be outside a stadium in Boston not knowing what was going on,” he said. “I feel like I missed something big.”
Seeing a U.S.-Mexico game in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City would be a dream come true, he said.
Such a rivalry game would be an interesting match for people with heritage in both countries, like Marquez, who was born in Mexico but has lived here most of her life.
“I have friends who judged me for supporting Mexico now that I live in the U.S. When you’re from Mexico, you don’t have a lot of things, but soccer in Mexico is one of the biggest things you do have,” she said. “It gives you motivation, makes you happy.”
She said in 1986, when the every-four-year tournament was held in Mexico, school teachers brought TVs into class so kids could watch the tournament.
While that may or may not happen here, longtime soccer coach Kelcey Chaidez hopes the tournament will provide a boost for youth soccer and the overall American soccer program.
“Stoking the dreams of young children with an event like that in our backyard is going to be amazing,” he said.
Chaidez, the director of coaching for the SR United soccer club, was elated to hear the news Wednesday morning.
“I need to arrange a month-long vacation and start saving now,” he said. “I’m a U.S. soccer supporter first and foremost, so we’ll probably make plans to see all three-four-five games the U.S. has. Maybe we’ll get to the East Coast, but of course we’ll see any of the Northern California games.”
Although the U.S. team was eliminated during qualifying games for this year’s Cup, it is presumed the team will automatically be entered, as the host typically is.