Hosting World Cup games is normally a dream for most cities around the globe. After all, the tournament helps bring in massive amounts of money through various avenues. However, the handling of the current situation does not thrill the city of Santa Clara, California.
Santa Clara is hosting multiple matches during the upcoming 2026 World Cup at Levi’s Stadium. Although the city’s stadium authority technically owns the stadium, the San Francisco 49ers currently manage events at the arena. According to a report by The Mercury News, city officials say that the NFL team is bowing down to FIFA without their knowledge.
Santa Clara official claims World Cup deal poses ‘risk’ to city
The news outlet reports that the city of Santa Clara had been trying to get their hands on documents related to the World Cup. However, the 49ers have held on to the paperwork. This led Mayor Lisa Gillmor to raise the question of potentially issuing a subpoena to obtain these documents. Some of this paperwork reached the hands of city officials.
City Manager Jovan Grogan is now claiming that the 49ers signed certain contracts with FIFA in 2017 or 2018. According to Grogan, the NFL team made “significant commitments” to the world’s governing body of soccer in these contracts.
These commitments mostly revolve around improvements to Levi’s Stadium. FIFA reportedly has full power to decide these arena alterations. However, Santa Clara voters previously approved a measure in 2010 that states that the city will not be responsible for paying for maintenance and improvements at the stadium.
Nevertheless, a Levi’s Stadium spokesperson has released a statement claiming that they will acknowledge the aforementioned measure. “Any required costs for the city of Santa Clara to host the World Cup will be reimbursed in accordance with the stadium agreements, as they have been since the stadium opened,” read the statement.
“There has also been a proposal in front of the Santa Clara stadium authority for months which would officially relieve them of any financial burden.”
City also concerned FIFA’s branding rights may annoy Levi’s
There are also concerns over FIFA’s demands for branding and signage rights. Santa Clara and the 49ers previously signed a massive $220 million naming rights deal at the stadium with denim company Levi Strauss. City officials worry that FIFA’s signage demands could negatively affect this deal.
While Santa Clara city officials are unhappy with their NFL team, other World Cup host cities are experiencing similar issues. A previous report laid out FIFA’s stunning demands with the city of Seattle as well. The World Cup runs across Canada, Mexico, and the United States in June 2026.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Pond5 Images
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