In the midst of tariff escalations and immigration policies, it may seem there is currently little that Canada, the United States, and Mexico can agree on – except perhaps soccer. FIFA's announcement last month that North America would host the 2026 World Cup has thrilled American soccer fans disappointed in the U.S team's failure to qualify for the 2018 games. For local soccer enthusiasts, the announcement came with a bonus, as Kansas City was named as a potential host site.
Even if your understanding of offsides is, like mine, a little confused, there is still plenty of reason to be excited about the potential of this global event landing in our backyard. For the first time, there will be 48 teams competing in the games and the opportunity for Kansas City to welcome players and fans from all corners of the world with our Midwestern hospitality.
Hosting the World Cup is more than just a chance for us to introduce the world to Kansas City, but also for the world to introduce itself to us. Every team, every fan has a story to tell, one of pride and hope and dreams, one worthy of our attention.
When that first whistle blows, we can leave dramatic domestic politics on the sidelines and focus instead on the drama of the tournament. We may serve as the summit for unlikely alliances created during the group stage, when a Korean win could mean success for Mexico. And when an underdog team inevitably makes a Cinderella run we may just have the chance to see in person the goal that sends watch parties thousands of miles away into joyful chaos.
Even if there isn't a home team to cheer on, there will still be plenty to celebrate. With any luck, crowded around the Power and Light District or cheering from the Arrowhead bleachers, we may all learn that our differences are not as big as the game that unites us.
About the Author
Morgan Biles is the Summer 2018 events intern at the IRC. She is a rising sophomore at Boston College and plans on majoring in political science and communications.