ORLANDO: Old Brazilian hero Kaka – who wound down is career with Orlando City from 2015 to 2017 – has become an honorary chairman of GO26, the city’s selection operation in pursuit of a place among the 10 United States venues for the 2026 World Cup.
The announcement came as a delegation from world federation FIFA starts a tour of candidate cities in Boston with Orlando on the travel schedule for Saturday 18.
The delegation is led by Victor Montagliani, CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president, accompanied by tournament and events officer Colin Smith.
Further city visits are planned for later in the year. In total, 17 US cities are competing for 10 selections in the final line-up.
The tours will include stadium inspections, information gathering, presentations and detailed negotiations with city authorities.
Kaka, the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year, said: “Orlando has become a home for soccer in the U.S. and deserves to host the greatest soccer event on the planet. It provides all the infrastructure top athletes need, as well as plenty of hospitality and entertainment for the fans.”
Jason Siegel, Greater Orlando Sports Commission ceo, said: “We have been working towards this [inspection visit] for a year – it’s an incredibly important moment for us and for our 450-strong organizing committee, who have alongside us since 2017.
“The endorsement of Kaka is very valuable, because he sees this city – and our wonderful facilities – through the eyes of a World Cup winner. With 48 teams competing in 2026, everything has to be right for the players and fans.”
The 2026 World Cup will be played in 16 cities across Canada, Mexico, and the United States with three venues each in Canada and Mexico.
Orlando is America’s most visited destination, with 75m tourists a year. It was a venue for the 1994 World Cup with attendances averaging more than 60,000. It also Olympic matches in both the men’s and women’s competitions in 1996.