Everyone here at the office knows I picked France to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup, so while I'm on a roll, let me take a look forward to 2026.
Great events serve as a catalyst for great innovation. With the recent announcement that the United States, Canada and Mexico will host the 2026 World Cup, I started to think of the technological developments coming over the next eight years that will redefine the fan experience.
The United States last hosted the World Cup in 1994. Still to this day, it’s considered the most successful World Cup. Not only did it position the United States as a major player on the world soccer stage, but it also ignited the growth of soccer, resulting in the formation of Major League Soccer (MLS) in 1996 and nearly doubling the number of youth soccer participants.
The 2026 World Cup will reignite a similar spark, taking soccer to new heights, but this time it’s different. While sports and live events remain a favorite pastime in the U.S., technology, entrepreneurship and innovation now fuel our economy. As the U.S. gets ready to take center stage, I have to wonder: How will this event reshape the fan experience?
If we think we already live in a hyper-connected mobile world—with more devices in the world than people and the average U.S. household owning at least five devices—how will this look in eight years?
Traditional TV will give way to over-the-top channels (OTT) as the preferred medium for content consumption; sports gambling with be an integrated part of the fan experience; high capacity Wi-Fi will be ubiquitous; intelligent, voice-controlled systems will be a staple in every house; and digital payments will be the primary payment method. These trends will shape the next generation of fan engagement software and solutions. And while 2026 seems like a long time from today, we’re planning the blueprint now.
As the CEO of FanThreeSixty, a leading fan engagement platform for sports and entertainment, I believe at the center of these macro trends will be embedded Artificial Intelligence. This AI will use machine learning to aggregate and analyze disparate data from a fan’s past history, creating a hyper-personalized, seamless experience that delivers the right connection to the right fan, at the right moment.
What do you think? What technology will make the 2026 World Cup a model for ALL future sporting events?