Chris Canetti, president of the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee, spoke at the Dec. 12 Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce luncheon to discuss why Houston should be one of the ten U.S. cities that host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
In 2018, a joint bid from the U.S., Mexico and Canada was awarded the right to host the international soccer competition, which will take place in June-July of 2026. According to BBC Sports, ten cities in the U.S. will be chosen to host 60 total World Cup matches, while Mexico and Canada will each get to choose three cities to host ten matches.
Houston is among 17 total U.S. cities in the race to host the World Cup and is competing among other major cities, such as New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas, for the nod. Despite the competition, Canetti said he believes Houston’s chances to win the bid are good.
“We like our chances,” he said. “We think that Houston has a fantastic opportunity, but we're not taking anything for granted here. We know we’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure we’re one of the ten.”
Canetti said Houston’s strengths as a host city lies in its history of hosting sporting events, such as the Super Bowl LI in 2017, which hosted over 150,000 people and had an estimated economic impact of $347 million, according to a promotional video presented by Canetti at the luncheon.
Canetti said the sporting event would be an estimated $80 million expense but could have a $1.3 billion economic impact on Houston.
“We want this for Houston,” he said. “We want to leverage a bigger and brighter future for Houston by bringing this event here,” he said.
Although the committee has yet to receive feedback from FIFA about Houston's bid, Canetti said more information on a decision can be expected in mid- to late 2020.
“How can Houston, being the city that we are, being the city that we want to be, pass on the opportunity to bring the world’s most prestigious and popular sporting event to our [city]?” Canetti said.