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During UK Visit, Lt. Gov. Rutherford Meets With Soccer Executives And Government Officials To Discuss Baltimore's World Cup Bid

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford on Monday completed a trip to the United Kingdom that included meetings with soccer executives and government officials as the Baltimore region continues its bid to host games during the 2026 FIFA World Cup, according to a new release from the bid committee.

Rutherford, co-chair of the committee behind the bid, was joined by Terrance Hasseltine, president of Baltimore-Maryland 2026 and executive director of Maryland Sports Commission during several meetings, the committee said.

Last week, Rutherford and Hasseltine met with executives from the English Football Association at Wembley Stadium in London to discuss hosting large soccer games, and the lieutenant governor later met with representatives from the government's Department of Industry and Trade and 20 businesses that specialize in running major events, the bid committee said.

The United Kingdom and Ireland are planning a joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup, according to multiple reports.

"I have enjoyed visiting the United Kingdom and sharing our unique vision for staging FIFA World Cup football matches in 2026, and the benefits for our communities in Maryland," Rutherford said in a statement. "We look forward to including some of the valuable lessons and expertise we received during our tour."

The lieutenant governor stopped in London, Birmingham and Manchester and also met with representatives from the United Nations-sanctioned charity Football for Peace, the bid committee said.

He also tweeted that he was joined by officials from the Maryland Department of Commerce to meet with British cybersecurity firms to promote the Maryland's strengths in the industry and trade officials to discuss strengthening relationships between the US and UK.

In the release, Hasseltine said the trip reaffirmed his belief that Baltimore can successfully be a host city.

"The relationships that have been built over the past few days with leading UK football organizations and other major event experts will greatly benefit Baltimore-Maryland not just through to 2026 but for many years beyond as well," he said. "We are returning to the United States with a spring in our step and look forward to channeling our enthusiasm into hard work over the next few months ahead of the host city decision."

All 2026 World Cup matches will be played in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In September, representatives from FIFA and U.S. Soccer toured M&T Bank Stadium and other sports amenities in Baltimore. During that tour, officials also made stops in Boston, Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando, Washington D.C., New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia and Miami.

A month later, FIFA officials visited Kansas City, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle in the U.S., as well as Monterrey, Mexico.

Soccer's governing body has said it expects to finalize the selection process by the first or second quarter of 2022.

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