EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Arsenal boss not interested in letting his stadium host World Cup matches

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Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke will likely extend his disagreement with FIFA, the sport’s governing body. Since, the suitability of his SoFi Stadium for the 2026 World Cup is undergoing scrutiny.

The 76-year-old tycoon is the proprietor of the $4.5 billion (£3.7B) state-of-the-art SoFi Stadium. It was initially one of the 16 stadiums in the 2026 World Cup to occur across the United States, Canada, and Mexico through their joint bid. However, Kroenke is now contemplating withdrawing the 70,000-seater stadium from hosting duties. Citing that the matches slated for the venue lack ‘significant heft.’

The SoFi Stadium was initially a top contender. That is alongside the MetLife Stadium in New York and the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, to host the final of the 2026 World Cup. However, there is now uncertainty about its role in the tournament. The Arsenal owner is concerned about potential financial losses. If only group stage and early knockout stage matches are held at his venue. Kroenke seeks reassurance from FIFA that the stadium will indeed host the tournament’s most significant match.

Why did Arsenal owner decide to withdraw?

According to ESPN’s John Sutcliffe, there is a strong likelihood that the Gunners’ owner will withdraw from the deal. That is due to the lack of viable economic sense for his participation.

Sutcliffe said: “It [Sofi Stadium] had design problems, no-one told Mr. Kroenke that they didn’t plan for a soccer field and that it has to get rid of these boxes.”

The SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, situated within the Hollywood Park entertainment complex, is under scrutiny. Since, FIFA officials plan to tour the venue and its surroundings this week to assess plans for the 2026 World Cup, as reported by the LA Times. However, both FIFA and the Los Angeles World Cup host committee are to refrain from commenting on the specifics of their meeting at the venue.

Additionally, the Arsenal owner is of the opinion that his stadium might not get priority due to time zone challenges. If the final were to be hosted on the West Coast of the USA in California, it would commence eight hours earlier than in England. Thus, making a kick-off at a conventional time practically unfeasible.

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