FIFA World Cup 2022: Kansas City gears up for 2026 World Cup: What needs to change?

FIFA World Cup 2022: Kansas City gears up for 2026 World Cup: What needs to change?

Kansas City recently got a glimpse of the excitement and challenges that come with hosting international soccer events, as it prepares for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Over the past week, the city hosted two Copa America games at Children’s Mercy Park and GEHA Field atArrowhead Stadium, drawing soccer fans from around the globe.

While the matches showcased Kansas City’s potential as a World Cup host, several issues need addressing to ensure a seamless experience in 2026.

What Kansas City Needs to Improve Before Hosting the FIFA World Cup

  • Game Times: Avoiding the Heat

One of the biggest challenges during the Copa America games was the scheduling of match times. The Canada-Peru game at Children’s Mercy Park kicked off at 5 p.m., the hottest part of the day in late June. With the heat index soaring into triple digits, assistant referee Humberto Panjoj collapsed from the heat late in the first half. Players, including Canada defender Alistair Johnston, emphasized the need for later start times.

“It can’t be a 5 o’clock kickoff,” Johnston stated after Canada’s 1-0 victory. “It’s gotta be an 8 or 9 o’clock kickoff. Because honestly, it’s not even safe for the fans.”

For the 2026 World Cup, it’s crucial that FIFA schedules games during cooler parts of the day to ensure the safety of both players and fans.

  • Refereeing Standards: Ensuring Fair Play

The U.S. Men’s National Team’s 1-0 loss to Uruguay at Arrowhead Stadium highlighted the need for top-tier refereeing. Referee Kevin Ortega made an unusual decision by issuing a yellow card while allowing Uruguay to play on, confusing many fans and players. While the U.S. team wasn’t outright robbed, such officiating blunders must be avoided in the World Cup.

FIFA must ensure that only the best referees are assigned to World Cup matches, and that VAR (Video Assistant Referee) decisions are clear and accurate.

  • Broadcasting Issues: Enhancing Viewer Experience

Viewers tuning in to the U.S. game on Monday were initially frustrated by an awkward TV angle that hampered their viewing experience. Fox Sports broadcasters repeatedly explained that this was due to using a “world feed” from the South American Football Confederation, chosen to highlight advertising boards around the stadium. Fortunately, the issue was resolved by halftime, but such problems should be prevented in the future.

FIFA needs to guarantee that all matches are broadcast with optimal camera angles, ensuring that viewers worldwide can enjoy the game without distractions.

Fans and Future Expectations

Despite these hiccups, Kansas City showed its potential as a fantastic host city for international soccer events. Peruvian fans, among others, were seen outside team hotels, bringing vibrant energy to the city. The Kelce family, including Travis Kelce, who recently attended Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour in London, mingled with fans, adding to the excitement.

As Kansas City prepares for the 2026 World Cup, addressing these key issues will be vital. With the right improvements, the city can ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for soccer fans from around the world.

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