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Sporting KC’s Peter Vermes on Kansas City’s 2026 FIFA World Cup bid: ‘Confident we are getting it’

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Posted at 3:11 PM, Jun 10, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — FIFA will announce which North American cities have been selected to host games in the 2026 World Cup during a press conference next Thursday, a day Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes predicts will be worth celebrating for area soccer fans.

Kansas City is one of 16 U.S. cities bidding to be among the 10 chosen to host games in four years.

“My feeling is I think we’re getting it,” Vermes said. “That’s just my feeling. I don’t have any inside knowledge, but I feel we’re getting it.”

He said Kansas City’s infrastructure for soccer, the city and the local soccer community ought to tip the scales in our favor.

“I think there’s no way that we shouldn’t get it, so I feel confident that we are getting it,” Vermes said.

Benny Feilhaber, a former MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion with Sporting KC who now serves as the head coach for Sporting KC II, would love to see World Cup games staged in Kansas City.

“I really hope that we get it,” Feilhaber said. “I think it’s a wonderful soccer city. ... I think it would be fantastic for the city and I think we’d put on a really good show.”

He said Kansas City’s central location relative to many of the other coastal sites vying to host games make it an ideal choice.

He should know. Feilhaber played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“It was a very special experience,” he said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Feilhaber also has played in the FIFA Confederations Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup, UEFA and CONCACAF champions Leagues and won multiple domestic cup titles.

“The difference with the World Cup is the stage that you’re on in terms of how many people are watching it,” Feilhaber said. “There’s nothing else in the world that is viewed as much as the World Cup. You know how many eyes are focused (on you).”

Kansas City is ready for its international closeup on the largest stage in sports, according to Vermes.

Sporting KC, led by Vermes and the club’s ownership group, has been instrumental in building up Kansas City’s robust and growing soccer culture, which now includes the Kansas City Current and has helped attract regular matches for the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams.

“When we opened the stadium in 2011, it was an objective of our ownership group to make Kansas City a soccer city,” Vermes said. “I think they’ve achieved that.”

He’s not suggesting Sporting KC has dethroned the Chiefs, but he believes Kansas City has a well-earned reputation in MLS and other soccer circles for its fan base and culture around the game.

“All teams that come and play here enjoy it from the atmosphere, the environment, the stadium — all the things that go with it,” Vermes said.

Kansas City also has proven to be a great host for the U.S. Men’s National Team and other soccer events as well, he said.

“That’s why I feel confident that we’re going to become one of the host cities,” Vermes said.