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A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority: Houston still in on World Cup soccer bid

Houston remains part of the United bid. Courtesy photo

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Another step for #United2026. A small leap for the City of Houston.

With 89 days left until FIFA chooses a site for the 2026 World Cup, Houston remains in the running as an official Candidate Host City for the United Bid of Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Bid organizers whittled the list of potential Host Cities down to 23 Thursday and will include all of them in the United Bid Book. FIFA’s decision on the host country is expected to be announced June 13.

If United does win the bid, the list of host cities will be trimmed to 16.

Janis Burke, CEO of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority was thrilled with Houston’s inclusion in those final 23 cities.

“Our community has demonstrated its love for soccer by hosting three world-class Copa America Centenario matches and many successful international soccer matched and we are still riding the excitement of the Houston Dynamo’s playoff run,’’ Burke said. “We have great confidence that we will add the 2026 FIFA World Cup to the list soon.”

Over the last decade, Houston has added soccer to its list of superstar sports. The Dynamo won two MLS Cup titles, made a run at a third last year before falling short and started strong this season. The Dash, under new coach Vera Pauw, begins its season later this month. Soccer is thriving on collegiate and youth levels as well.

The city was on display last November when Houston hosted a four-day idea summit for the unprecedented three-country bid. The summit, which coincided with the Dynamo’s playoff run, included representatives from 32 cities and officials from the United Bid Committee. The group came away with not only multiple potential concepts for the bid, but also a great feel for Houston and the downtown footprint that has been so successful for Super Bowl LI and the 2016 Final Four.

Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey are the international cities on the list. The U.S. has a total of 17 cities. Among the other 16 are Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia and Boston. 

The United Bid is a unique collaboration. Mexico has a 75-year love affair with soccer, while Canada is an emerging soccer nation. And America? It has been three decades since the U.S. hosted the impressive 1994 World Cup, which holds the record for most tickets sold.

“Canada, Mexico and the United States have joined together to deliver a United Bid that offers FIFA and its member associations the power of unity, the promise of certainty, and the potential of extraordinary opportunity,’’ said John Kristick, Executive Director of the United Bid.

“We are confident that the combination of our 23 existing world-class stadiums, 150 existing elite training facilities, and our modern and interconnected transportation network can help FIFA to achieve new records for attendance and revenue which will allow the entire global football community to improve and grow.’’

In November, summit officials noted there was “great growth and engagement” in the three United Bid countries which would benefit the global soccer community.

The bid is a whopping 530 pages and FIFA plans another North American visit sometime in April.

In the meantime, soccer enthusiasts in Houston who want their city included in the final 16 should the #United2026 bid be successful, can make a difference. Turning out to watch Dynamo, Dash and other games, as well as letting their voices be heard on social media can only help.

“Supporting any soccer event in Houston is something everyone can do,’’ said Doug Hall, HCHSA’s vice president of special projects. “It shows the United Bid Committee and FIFA that we’re not just a big city, but we’re a big city that supports soccer – all levels of soccer.’’








 

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