Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke set to be ruled out of hosting 2026 World Cup final leaving him with stadium dilemma
STAN KROENKE is set to be ruled out of hosting the 2026 World Cup Final – because the pitch at his £4.1billion stadium is too small.
Arsenal owner Kroenke supervised the construction of the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, which opened in 2020.
Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke won’t be hosting the 2026 World Cup
Stan Kroenke’s ground the SoFi Stadium doesn’t meet the required FIFA criteria
Home to both the city’s NFL teams, the Rams and the Chargers, it was confirmed as a World Cup venue last year.
With the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which hosted the Final in 1994, not included in FIFA‘s chosen grounds for 2026, the SoFi was thought to be in a head-to-head contest with New York’s MetLife Stadium to host the Final on July 19.
But officials have been alerted to the fact that the artificial pitch laid to meet NFL demands is too narrow for official FIFA use.
While a grass pitch will be installed for the World Cup, the area set aside for play is too tight to meet FIFA demands for photography positions and space for officials.
Incredibly, the current playing surface is 63ft – almost 16 yards – too narrow for FIFA demands.
It means a number of “field seat suites” – hospitality boxes at pitch level – will have to be ripped out to provide the required infrastructure, with the playing surface itself raised slightly.
SoFi Stadium has a basic capacity of just over 70,000 under its state-of-the-art roof, although it can be extended, with the necessary alterations likely to bring a significant loss of seats.
With FIFA mandating that the stadium for the final must have a capacity of 80,000, it seems almost impossible for it to get the honour of hosting the biggest game in world football.
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That makes the MetLife Stadium, home of New York’s two NFL sides and with a capacity of 80,242, as very much the frontrunner.
The only downside of playing the final there is that it is an open stadium and with a likely 3pm kick-off local time – 8pm in the UK – FIFA does have concerns about mid-summer heat impacting on its showpiece match.
This comes after Arsenal’s majority shareholder Kroenke and his son Josh became the club’s Co-Chairs.