In the summer of 2026, the biggest FIFA World Cup in history will be co-hosted by the North American nations of the United States, Canada and Mexico. The tournament is expected to rake in billions of dollars for host cities and nations. But just as stadiums are planning their improvements, other nations are issuing warnings about whether traveling to the U.S. for the World Cup is worth the risk. LA Times sportswriter Kevin Baxter told Lisa McRee about how gun violence could impact the World Cup.
Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium could host up to eight games during the tournament. But, Baxter said, warnings from other nations about safety in the U.S. could upend the games.
“What other countries are telling people is that it’s just not safe to come to the United States. And we’re hearing anecdotal evidence now, the studies are still being done and we’re hearing anecdotal evidence of people planning and saving to come from Peru or England to go to Disneyland or Disney World and just canceling the trip because they’re not safe,” Baxter said.
New Zealand, Germany and Canada are among the countries issuing warnings about traveling to the U.S.
“Germany tells its citizens that guns are ever present in the United States. Easy to obtain. And they say, quote, ‘There are occasional killing sprees.’ Germany is telling their citizens, if they come to the United States, there are occasional killing sprees. The UK has warned about domestic terrorists in the United States. So has New Zealand. Canada is telling its citizens to role play what you would do if you were stuck in a mass shooting,” Baxter said.
The countries have cited recent mass shootings near stadiums that would host World Cup games. Baxter talked to experts about what impact the warnings will have on World Cup attendance and profits.
“One study showed that 7% of visitors who had planned to the United States were either afraid or canceled [their trips] because of this gun problem. … That could be a $250 million in economic impact that could be lost if people don’t come. So the tourism boards now are going to the politicians and saying this is an economic issue,” Baxter said. “Another person I spoke to was Alan Rothenberg. He put on the 1994 World Cup. ... He said in 1994, he remembered that people talked about the gang problem in Los Angeles, scaring tourists away. … He said that that never came to pass, and he doesn’t think it will this time.”
Watch the full interview above.
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