FIFA is willing to be more flexible with the 2026 World Cup host cities regarding fan fests. The world’s governing body of the sport typically has strict guidelines for cities set to host World Cup games. This includes forcing cities to organize a free fan entertainment area outside of arenas where the matches are being played.

These fan zones are to remain open for the entire month of the tournament. FIFA insists on keeping public areas open regardless of weather conditions. Additionally, the governing body wants every city to be able to accommodate a minimum of 15,000 fans at a time.

All 16 host cities for the upcoming 2026 World Cup previously signed contracts with FIFA to be selected. 11 of these areas are inside of the United States. By agreeing to the rules, these cities had to adhere to FIFA’s stern demands for the tournament.

These stipulations included offering free public transportation for ticket holders, beautifying the area surrounding the stadiums, as well as enforcing the fan entertainment areas.

FIFA easing fan fest demands

Nevertheless, Sports Business Journal is now reporting that FIFA has conceded its insistence regarding these fan fests. The news outlet claims that the governing body may now not require the cities to hold an official fan fest at all. There is, however, a possibility that each area may have to organize just one fan zone per tournament.

Along with bending their usual rules, FIFA is also giving host cities more freedom regarding these fan zones. Each location can now determine how big or small they want to make their fan fest. These cities may also be able to choose when exactly to hold these events. This includes exactly how many days each fan fest will be.

Cities can now also target more sponsorship opportunities

In another concession by FIFA, host cities will also be able to generate more revenue through sponsorship opportunities. The governing body previously limited which companies the cities could work with during the tournament. Nevertheless, these areas will now be given more freedom to deal with other companies to raise more money.

One host city official spoke on the issue with Sports Business Journal. The exec, speaking anonymously, applauded FIFA’s recent flexibility. “I commend [FIFA] for trying to think about things differently,” stated the city official. “Not only do fans engage differently here, and so a one-size-fits-all solution may not fit everyone, but also the host cities are under different types of pressures, and so it’s not financially or resource-wise possible to do what [FIFA wants].”

FIFA’s delay in releasing the official schedule has affected planning for the 2026 World Cup. Host cities are sitting on their hands because they cannot make plans until they know their specific schedules. The governing body, however, is releasing the complete World Cup itinerary on Feb. 4.

FIFA has yet to officially declare the host city for the tournament final. Recent reports claim that the massive match will be in the Dallas, Texas, area.