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Houston 2026 announces plans for Soccer Innovation Institute

The Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee today announced plans for the Soccer Innovation Institute, a non-profit institution that will carry out the city’s legacy vision around the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The unprecedented legacy strategy will harness the city’s vast innovation resources with a common goal – advancing the game of soccer globally – and aligns with the recent launch of the Spirit of Houston campaign that highlights the passionate, community-driven approach for which Houston is known.
The institute will rely on Houston’s spirit of innovation to create a united community investment in building a legacy that goes well beyond the city.

The Soccer Innovation Institute will be made up of a network of experts and leaders from some of the world’s most influential organizations and will serve two key functions – conducting specialized thinktanks and supporting a series of community programs focused on three key pillars:

  1. Growing the game for all: increase soccer engagement through multiple avenues that will grow the game and benefit future generations
  2. Enhancing the fan experience: reimagine and improve the fan experience for soccer fans in the region and around the world
  3. Impacting social and environmental responsibility: use the power of the sport to address critical social and environmental issues

    Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and senior representatives from leading local organizations were on hand at the Soccer Innovation Institute announcement event today at the Ion, the city’s recently opened hub for innovation, creation, inclusion and exploration, where corporate innovators, academic partners, community partners, start-ups, and entrepreneurs come together to solve some of the world’s greatest problems.Houston 2026 Chair John Arnold said: “As the energy capital of the world, the global leader in medicine, the universal headquarters for NASA and the home to numerous sports tech companies, Houston has an abundance of resources that are unmatched by other cities. By bringing these organizations together under one umbrella, the Soccer Innovation Institute presents the ultimate opportunity to redefine the player and fan experience, and develop a lasting legacy for the long-term benefit of the FIFA World Cup.”

    Mayor Turner said: “Houston is recognized as a leader in technology and innovation. We have many innovation hubs around the city that bring bright minds into collaborative spaces where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Soccer Innovation Institute aligns perfectly with Houston’s enthusiasm for the game of soccer, our work to land the 2026 FIFA World Cup and our

efforts to build a strong innovation ecosystem with a lasting legacy. This is an exciting announcement.”

The united Houston community – including local government, major corporations, soccer entities and civic groups from across the region – are already collaborating with Houston 2026 on legacy programming that will be rolled into the institute, including NRG, the Texas Medical Center, Shell, Chevron, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Council for Responsible Sport, Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash, the City of Houston, Harris County and Houston First.

The announcement of the institute follows Houston 2026’s unveiling of a 10,000-square-foot “Gateway to the World” Mural at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) that celebrates the city’s bid to host the most popular sporting event in the world.

About the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee

The Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee is leading the South Texas region’s efforts to host the FIFA World Cup 2026TM. It is a subsidiary of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority. The FIFA World Cup 2026TM will be played in 16 cities across the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Houston is among 17 cities vying to become a U.S. host city. A final decision is expected in the first half of 2022.

About the Soccer Innovation Institute

The Soccer Innovation Institute is a non-profit organization that will be launched if Houston is selected as a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Inspired by the Spirit of Houston – a united, community-driven and innovative approach that will go above and beyond for the 2026 FIFA World Cup – the Soccer Innovation Institute will play a leading role in unifying the city’s resources to help grow the reach and influence of soccer.

Focused on the pillars of growing the game for all, enhancing the fan experience, and impacting social and environmental responsibility, the Soccer Innovation Institute will make a significant impact on the game thanks to Houston’s unique resources.

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