Mayor London Breed joked that she is mostly responsible for the Bay Area’s successful 2026 World Cup bid—by treating a top FIFA executive to secret wine from her “private stash.”
The 2022 World Cup returns Sunday from Qatar, but will take place in the U.S., Canada, Mexico in four years—with games held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
The mayor made the tongue-in-cheek comments at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Treasure Island soccer stadium in September. Breed shared the anecdote about FIFA’s visit to San Francisco in 2021, as she was a part of the welcoming delegation.
“I made sure that I sat next to the chair [of the selection committee],” Breed said. “I found out he was a wine enthusiast. So I got him the best bottle of wine from the restaurant.”
“One that is a part of my private stash that I don’t tell most people about,” she added. “He was so impressed with the wine. I told him, ‘If this wine doesn’t make you come to the Bay Area and SF, then I don’t know what will.’”
Today, FIFA officials would likely not be impressed with Breed's wine story, as a new Netflix documentary: FIFA Uncovered, which aired Nov. 9, dives deep into the organization’s long running corruption scandal.
FIFA spent much of the 2010s embroiled in a U.S. criminal investigation for corruption, money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud. It resulted in the indictment of 32 individuals, two corporations and eventually led to the resignation of the long-reigning FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
In 2020, the Department of Justice also said that Russian and Qatari representatives had bribed FIFA for their successful 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
The Bay Area Host Committee for the 2026 bid was led by 49ers president Al Guido, in partnership with the other major sports teams, local business executives and politicians.
The other U.S. cities selected to host World Cup matches in 2026 are: New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium), Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium), Dallas (AT&T Stadium), Miami (Hard Rock Stadium), Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), Seattle (Lumen Field), Houston (NRG Stadium), Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) and Boston (Gillette Stadium).
Breed added that the construction of the Treasure Island new stadium, led by the San Francisco Glens soccer team, will be SF's “shining jewel” by the time the World Cup arrives.
“This is going to put San Francisco officially on the map in the soccer world like nothing else,” she said.
The men’s World Cup last came to the United States in 1994. Back then, the Bay Area games were played at Stanford Stadium. In that tournament’s knockout Round of 16, the U.S. team lost to the eventual champions Brazil 1-0 in front of a crowd of 84,147.
Mayor Breed's office has been contacted for comment.
Editor's Note: The FIFA Men’s World Cup, hosted by Qatar, kicks off on Nov. 20 and will run through Dec. 18. For the duration of the tournament, The Standard will explore a series of soccer stories through a Bay Area lens.
The games will be televised on the FOX network and FS1 (English-language) and Telemundo (Spanish-language). If you’re in the city, view our San Francisco Where To Watch The Games Guide here or check out the World Cup Village downtown.
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