FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - South Florida has staged and continues to hold big international soccer matches, but none will be bigger than the World Cup when it comes to the United States in 2026.

Miami will be one of the cities hosting a group stage.

At Saturday night’s game at DRV PNK Stadium, over 16,000 fans watched current and former international sports legends play a soccer match.

Among the players was former NFL star Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson.

Johnson is a huge soccer fan and believes South Florida is the perfect destination for the World Cup.

“It has a long way to go,” said Johnson. “I think it would be much better if we didn’t have too many sports to choose from here in the states, and I think soccer would be just as popular as it is over the water, but unfortunately, it’s not but it’s getting there.”

Inter Miami Head Coach Phil Neville played for England’s national team.

“I think about the biggest thing in the world is World Cup football and it’s come to South Florida,” said Neville, “so, a proud moment for this region and, you know, the soccer fans in this region have got something really to look forward to over the next three or four years.”

Hard Rock Stadium will be the site for one of the World Cup group stages. This sports complex is no stranger to hosting mega events.

“You know, you have Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton, Messi and Neymar all in one place,” said Miami Dolphins President and CEO Tom Garfinkle. “It’s trying to create a venue where, in this very dynamic place that we live, where people want to travel from all over the world to attend these events and the World Cup is, along with Formula One, and [the] Superbowls, you know, as big as it gets.”

Johnson once had a tryout with Sporting Kansas City at the MLS back in 2011 during the NFL’s two-month lockout. He mentioned that he loves soccer and plans to attend many of the 2026 World Cup matches here in the U.S, Canada and Mexico.

Copyright 2022 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox