The cancellation of the World Cup to Washington, FedEx Field and Daniel Snyder
That was just the first of her eye openers.
When they finally arrived at the stadium in suburban Maryland, where the local NFL team plays, officials were shown repairs to a pipe that had burst during a game a few weeks earlier, revealing a dwindled Washington football team fan base at about a dozen pitches Liquid doused team leaders swore was not sewage.
And while the World Cup honchos were long gone by the end of the season, visiting other potential locations around the country, they were certainly briefed on a season-ending event at FedEx that I think was a metaphor for the stadium and franchise that it calls home. Several Philadelphia fans trying to congratulate their winning quarterback, Jalen Hurts, as he left the field, caused the railing they were leaning over to collapse, and they fell about six feet to the ground. Stadium officials said the railings were not intended to be load-bearing.
As Colin Smith, a World Cup official, said Thursday – after it was revealed Washington had failed to be an official part of the 2026 tournament – it was difficult to “imagine a World Cup in the US and the capital.” doesn’t matter much…” he was just being polite. We didn’t deserve the 2026 World Cup, but it’s not our fault.
Blame Daniel Snyder. Because World Cup officials almost decided Snyder’s Stadium was a little less than a dump.
2026 World Cup host cities are revealed, but DC and Baltimore are missing
Some of us have grown accustomed to our NFL franchise, which makes us an embarrassment in the region, what’s happening with the Ravens on the Parkway in Baltimore playing victorious football at a stadium built just a year after FedEx , for about half the cost and with a reputation for being both accessible and enjoyable.
Some of us are beginning to get used to the fact that our team makes us a national embarrassment, which coincides with Snyder’s refusal Wednesday to appear before a congressional committee investigating allegations that his team’s workplace, among other things, is misogynistic.
But Thursday took us to a new level of shame: worldwide. Thanks to Snyder.
Certainly the district’s vision of hosting games had been abandoned weeks ago as cities pooled bids in a vain attempt to overcome Washington’s stadium shortages. Now, for one of the few times in its nearly 100-year history, the 2026 Men’s World Cup will begin without the host country’s capital as the venue for a single game. Bonn, West Germany, was omitted in 1974. Tokyo did not join Seoul when Japan and South Korea co-hosted in 2002. And while Canada and Mexico are co-hosting 2026 with the United States as a hub, Mexico City will host games while Ottawa was never considered.
Even in 1994, when the United States hosted a World Cup for the first time, the soon-to-be-demolished RFK Stadium still hosted games, though it was past its prime.
“It was an incredibly competitive process,” Smith said. “All the cities were incredible. That was a very, very difficult decision.”
In fact, long before Smith’s peers toured FedEx, the FedEx playing surface was being criticized as the worst in the NFL after a string of high-profile injuries. The franchise all but admitted this as it embarked on a major rebuild project just before last season. Apparently it was a bit too late for World Cup officials who rely on athletes who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars to their pro teams.
But this rejection wasn’t just about timing. It was about poor stadium management that rivals only poor management of a once-crazy NFL franchise.
This may have been Snyder’s coup de grace to kill this golden goose of an NFL franchise. The team I grew up with in Section 312 of the RFK is long gone. Winning dropped. The coveted season ticket is no longer available. Less than 10 years after FedEx opened in 1997, it grew to become the largest NFL stadium, seating 91,000 fans. It was either first or second in the NFL for a number of years. By 2021, it attracted the second fewest ticket buyers in the league.
Barry Svrluga: The options for a Commanders Stadium location: Bad, Worse, and Absent
That’s not just because it’s a long journey for so many fans, as those responsible for the World Cup complained. It’s also a long drive for fewer and fewer reasons. The team I grew up with won as many playoff games in the ’80s and ’90s as all but one team, the San Francisco 49ers. It was a must see both in person and on TV.
Since then, the team, which is one of the 2000s, has won fewer playoff games than any team in the league except for the Detroit Lions. No wonder the number of visitors has fallen so sharply.
Well, what was the crown jewel of the region’s professional sports franchises may as well be a gimmick. Nobody desires it.
Earlier this month, amid the myriad controversies surrounding the team, Virginia Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) introduced legislation that would have helped fund a new stadium for Snyder’s football team.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan reiterated that if Snyder wanted to sign a new lease after the current lease expired in 2027 but failed to fund a new stadium, his state would spend $400 million to build the area around FedEx.
And while the old RFK is set to be demolished, DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and the City Council are at odds over how the land it stands on should be used. Right now, the city doesn’t even own it; the federal government does.
But there’s no need to rush to build new or renovate the old. The world’s greatest sporting event said it wasn’t coming, another disgraceful performance for Daniel Snyder.