Confetti streamed, the Phillie Phanatic and Phang shimmied, “Philadelphia Freedom” pumped from loudspeakers, and the crowd gathered in the shadow of City Hall went wild as the announcement flashed across the big screen in LOVE Park Thursday: “The Bid is Won.”

FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, announced via broadcast that Philadelphia had been selected as one of 11 American cities to host the World Cup in 2026 — the largest World Cup in soccer history.

“The world is coming to Philadelphia, and we are ready,” Mayor Jim Kenney said to cheers.

Philadelphia was one of 16 successful cities that bid to host the 2026 tournament — which will see 48 teams and 80 games across North America. The other U.S. cities selected to host the cup include: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle. Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey in Mexico; and Toronto and Vancouver in Canada were also picked to host the tournament.

As the announcement played across the screen, Cliff Kellett, of Ridley Park, used two hands to proudly raise a blue and yellow “Philadelphia 2026″ scarf in the air.

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“We’re beyond pleased,” Kellett, a Union season ticket holder, and member of the team’s Sons of Ben fan group said. “This is exactly what Philadelphia needs to help let people understand what a great game of soccer is.”

Daniel J. Hilferty, chair of the 2026 World Cup hosting bid and former CEO of Independence Health Group, called the win “huge” for the city.

Hosting the cup, he said, is expected to bring roughly half a million visitors to the city over a month. Conservatively, Hilferty said, the bid is expected to raise over a quarter billion dollars in economic impact, create 3,500 jobs, and generate $262 million in direct tourism spending.

“We’re going to work aggressively to make sure that Philadelphia shows itself in the best possible way,” Hilferty said.

Though he will no longer be mayor by the time the city hosts the tournament in 2026, Kenney said he sees the bid as “the stamp of approval of the world” and “a real push … back away from the pandemic towards a more prosperous and equitable, better community.”

The mayor recounted the city’s pitch to FIFA last fall, saying he had a “good feeling” — and that he believed the city’s history of welcoming newcomers “with respect and dignity,” Philadelphia’s noted passion for sports, Comcast’s heavy involvement with the bid, and the “spectacular” condition of Lincoln Financial Field’s grass all played a role in FIFA’s choice.

Planning for hosting the cup will commence Friday afternoon, and all the host cities will meet next week to discuss more arrangements, officials said. The World Cup games will be hosted at the Linc, expected to hold 62,000.

In a statement, Philadelphia Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie thanked the bid team and fans, calling the win a “collaborative effort across the Greater Philadelphia Community.”

“As we approach America’s 250th anniversary in the summer of 2026, we look forward to celebrating the special occasion, and the great sport of soccer, at Lincoln Financial Field in front of the world,” he said.

Lauren Fiori, 33, and Kat Swift, 42, decked in jerseys and scarves stood in line for Philadelphia Union gear hours before host cities were announced. The two — both longtime devoted soccer fans (Fiori is a supporter of Arsenal F.C., and Swift is a fan of Chelsea and Germany) — said they both looked forward to being able to share their passion for the game with their friends and family.

“To be in my hometown, and be able to then bring some of my friends that are on the periphery of soccer into it — they’re not gonna go out and buy tickets, and fly around the world for the World Cup. But I think if it comes here, they are more likely to want to experience that,” Fiori said, calling the bid a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“Just knowing the passion that this city has for anything but especially sports — I think it’ll be pretty fantastic.”

Jose Luis, 47, founder and president of Club Deportivo Lobos, a South Philadelphia youth soccer club with around 200 players, beamed with excitement as he watched some of his players bounce around an inflatable soccer arena on the LOVE Park lawn, waiting for FIFA’s announcement.

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Luis has coached the club for 12 years, and said he is a lifelong soccer player and fan. It would be “very, very amazing,” Luis said, to attend his first World Cup game, and also to see Mexico — his home country’s team — play in his other home city of Philadelphia.

“Who doesn’t want to see Cristiano Ronaldo?” he said, 2026 Philadelphia scarf in hand. “My players, they are young, so they would be excited if they got to see one of those [star] players here.”

“If they say there are three games [in Philadelphia], I’m going to three games,” Luis laughed.

It was the dedication of fans that helped bring the World Cup to the city, said a grinning Alejandro Bedoya, captain of the Philadelphia Union.

”There’s a reason why we were chosen and that’s no doubt… they saw the passionate sports fans that are in this city,” Bedoya said. “And for those who are not into soccer, believe me, you will get into it real quick.”