Speaking on the “Breaking the Seal: First Time Hosts” panel, Canetti touched on Houston 2026’s plan to advance the game of soccer in Houston, South Texas and globally. A huge part of this is the Soccer Innovation Institute, a non-profit organization that will play a leading role in unifying Houston’s resources to help grow the reach and influence of soccer.

“The Soccer Innovation Institute will draw from Houston’s unique resources to deliver value across three pillars: growing the game for all, enhancing the fan experience, and impacting social and environmental responsibility,” said Canetti.

Currently, more than four million people in South Texas are connected by soccer, but, through Houston’s community-driven approach, there is a potential to engage over three million more. That would make South Texas the largest community of people anywhere in the US connected by soccer. Moreover, as part of the bid’s commitment sustainability and human rights, Houston 2026 executed a first-of-its-kind cooperation with the Council for Responsible Sport, the world’s leading responsible sport certification program.

“As the energy capital of the world, the global leader in medicine, the universal headquarters for NASA and the home to many sports tech companies, Houston has an abundance of resources that are unmatched by other cities. We are so lucky to have the support of the Houston community and are fully focused on our united, community-driven and innovative campaign bring the World Cup to our city.”

As part of the Grow the Game Initiative, Houston 2026 recently launched two, grassroots youth soccer programs and previously announced a $6 million campaign with the U.S Soccer Foundation to create 30 mini-pitches across Houston to ensure more young people have access to the world’s most popular sport.

Soccerex Americas is hosted in partnership with Concacaf, US Soccer Federation, Major League Soccer and LaLiga to connect over 2,000 leaders from the soccer communities in North, Central & South America, and the rest of the world, creating a unique business environment through an expanded program of industry insight, workshops and networking opportunities.

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