Baltimore-Maryland's bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches has launched a new ‘International Football Development 2026’ (IFD26) initiative as part of its commitment to creating strong local and international football legacies.
As part of the campaign, Baltimore-Maryland 2026 is partnering with regions across the world to offer support where sports development resources may be limited. The launch of the initiative is accompanied with the announcement of the initiative’s first partner, West-African Benin.
“We’re very excited to be part of the IFD26 family and to be forging a close relationship with the Baltimore-Maryland 2026 team. We are looking forward to working alongside Baltimore 2026 as the first region to develop, not only our domestic football landscape, but also close economic and cultural ties with the city. For us this a natural alignment because it is evident we share similar values,” said Benin’s Minister of Sports, Mr. Oswald Homeky.
“As a diverse and welcoming city, Baltimore-Maryland would offer FIFA a unique and unrivalled opportunity if chosen as host of 2026 FIFA World Cup matches. The bid’s proven commitment to creating enduring legacies is testament to its central vision of welcoming the world to enjoy the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”
IFD26 will see Benin and Baltimore-Maryland 2026 collaborate and share knowledge, building on the West African country’s passion for football and developing its women’s and youth programs to empower all areas of the game. Capability-building lies at the heart of the IFD26 initiative, and the partnership will grow Benin’s domestic football industry, creating employment pathways, education, skills and job opportunities.
“Baltimore-Maryland 2026 is committed to expanding the global horizons of football and delivering impactful programs that deliver a strong football legacy for local and world football and FIFA,” said Terrance Hasseltine, President of Baltimore-Maryland 2026 and Executive Director of Maryland Sports Commission.
“Baltimore-Maryland 2026 has been described as underdogs in this race and that simply pushes us on to deliver a dynamic bid that shows our diverse city is ready to welcome the football family. IFD26 will be a central focus for our bid, and we are looking forward to supporting fellow ‘underdogs’ and their football development.”
Aligning with Baltimore-Maryland 2026’s vision of expanding football’s audience locally and internationally, IFD26 will enable the bid to engage new global audiences with the 2026 FIFA World Cup and grow the game in new markets.
“Expanding the horizons of football is a core commitment of our bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches and the IFD26 initiative will support football’s long-term development in Baltimore-Maryland and across the world. Partnering with Benin is a fantastic opportunity for our shared passion for football to grow and to deliver tangible legacy initiatives for current and future players to benefit from,” said Olubunmi Jinadu, Senior Advisor to and Member of the Baltimore Maryland 2026 FIFA World Cup Host Committee.
“Baltimore-Maryland 2026 promises to be a platform for growing football in new markets and engaging new audiences locally and internationally and IFD26 is a key part of this.”
According to the announcement accompanying the launch, Baltimore-Maryland’s bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches offers “a unique and unrivalled opportunity to build one of the most welcoming, diverse and inclusive host cities in World Cup history. As an easy to navigate city ready to accommodate football, Baltimore-Maryland 2026 will promote sustainable practices and human rights and provide a catalyst for positive change through football.”