Kickers’ Leigh Cowlishaw believes 2026 World Cup could benefit Richmond

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Northern America trio of Mexico, Canada and the United States has been awarded the 2026 World Cup by FIFA, and the three countries are collectively jumping for joy that the world’s greatest soccer tournament is returning after 24 years.

Not only will the tournament expand from 32 teams to 48, the trio will host a total of 80 games. Mexico and Canada will each get to host 10 games while the United States will host 60 including the World Cup Final at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

While the news will have an impact nationwide, it could mean World Cup fever makes its way to the city of Richmond in some fashion.

Richmond Kickers head coach Leigh Cowlishaw believes the city is capable and perfectly suited to welcome one of the qualifying teams as their home away from home, the team’s home-base while training and competing in World Cup competition.

“To bring one of the 48 countries in to Richmond as a base, that would be a big deal,” Cowlishaw told 8News. “The advantages of Richmond as a site would be logistics; it’s close to some of the host cities, (teams) would need some massive infrastructure to come and play, City Stadium would be a good location.

“Richmond would be a great host city for a training camp”  — Kickers’ Lee Cowlishaw

Based on the viewer ratings of the English Premier League and La Liga professional soccer leagues here in Richmond, and the recent success of hosting national events such as the UCI Road World Championships and various high school travel lacrosse, soccer and field hockey tournaments, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that City Stadium could be the practice site for a major contender in the World Cup.

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