World Cup 2026 organizers have claimed that their winning bid was the only one which could offer sell outs every day of the tournament.
The Netherlands and Belgium won the rights to hold a combined men’s and women’s World Cup this month, with the event to be held in Amstelveen and a new venue in Wavre, Belgium.
For the Dutch, it will be a third time hosting a dual World Cup after 1998 and 2014, while Belgium will mark a maiden tournament.
Erik Gerritsen, KNHB chief, told hockey.nl: “It’s the biggest hockey event in existence and it’s an honor to host it. It gives extra cachet to our sport. I’m already noticing that because of the many responses. The impact is much greater than with a European Championship. In short: we are proud of it.”
Asked how the combined bid crossed the line over strong bids, which included England’s vision to host the World Cup at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Gerritsen said: “The FIH chose not only for our bid because we had an attractive proposal financially and commercially. Also because we can ensure that we have a sold-out house every day of the World Cup in Belgium and the Netherlands. A full stadium in two places every day, which is of course a great promotion for hockey. The other countries couldn’t offer that.
“I didn’t think we were “the favorite” or anything like that. Of course we were confident in our bid, but for example England’s campaign including the use of Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium for the final of the men’s tournament was also impressive.”
Gerritsen says the tournament structure will work, despite being held in two countries. The proximity within the two stadia, which can be reached by train or driving in around two and a half hours, adds to the appeal.
He added: “We are much closer to the Belgians in terms of culture and language. This makes cooperation even easier and closer. Moreover, there is no need to fly during the tournament. The two stadiums are within driving distance of each other. Closer than the stadiums in other candidate countries.”
The Amstelveen Wagener Stadium will now be earmarked for renovation, which will also see the capacity increased to 12,000. “That seems like a good number for the 2026 World Cup. If this succeeds, we will have a state-of-the-art hockey stadium that can last another thirty years.”