Football is filled with incredible comeback stories. Last minute screamers, drama-addled penalty shootouts, and countless David vs Goliath stories. Now, FIFA, the global footballing body, is challenged with reversing its own fortunes.
The litany of controversies surrounding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are well known by now: still disputed migrant deaths during stadium construction; the country’s position on LGBTQ+ rights and the silencing of people supporting these communities throughout the event. Even banning Budweiser, the tournament’s beer partner for 36 years, from stadiums at the 11th hour diminished perceptions of a tournament that was doomed before the first whistle. But once the news cycle inevitably trudged on, how much would the ghosts of FIFA’s past (which long predate Qatar) come back to haunt it further down the line?
Well, it’s complicated. Let’s not forget that FIFA is also home to the Women’s World Cup, which has somehow managed to carve out a sub-brand that’s far more feel good than the men’s tournament. The response to the identity for the forthcoming women’s tournament – which may well have offered a blueprint for the 2026 identity – seemed overwhelmingly positively on social media. And for a long time, FIFA was attached to the EA Sports football gaming franchise, which in recent years had arguably become the most wholesome face of the FIFA ecosystem thanks to a number of creative or purpose-led initiatives. However the series will soon be known as EA Sports FC after both parties reportedly failed to agree on a licensing deal. Without it, there is perhaps even less room for FIFA to hide.
The recent launch of the 2026 World Cup identity was the first real litmus test for FIFA since Qatar. The occasion is supersized in every way – 48 teams, three countries, both firsts for the tournament – and the designs appear to tap into that. The palettes are bright and jubilant, the typography thick and abstract, and the designs are intended to be customisable for different host cities – referenced in the accompanying We Are 26 brand campaign – to slot into.