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World Cup 2026 | USA, Mexico and Canada: DaMarcus Beasley: Football is Houston, without a doubt


Whilst much of the international focus is currently on the imminent 2022 World Cup in Qatar, attention in the United States of America, Mexico and Canada has turned towards the 2026 edition which is to be held across the three countries.

After securing the rights to host the tournament with a triangular-bid, officials from each nation are now required to complete the process of allocating host cities for their portion of the tournament, and Houston’s 2026 bid-team spoke exclusively to MARCA in English to explain what they hope to bring to the table ahead of the final decision due to be made in December 2021.

DaMarcus Beasley, formerly of Manchester City, is part of the bid-team after having represented the Houston Dynamo in MLS for five years at the end of his career, and he spoke glowingly of the welcome football will receive in the city.

“Football is Houston, without a doubt, and what the sport represents for the people within the city is phenomenal,” Beasley told MARCA in English.

“This city is passionate about football, and for me being able to have been in this city, playing for the Dynamo, I’ve heard so many stories about how fans fell in love with the game.

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“In 1994 this was a new sport, a lot of people didn’t know what to expect, yet in 2026 people fully believe in the product and that interest is going to catapult to an even higher level.”

Questions over the viability of the bid didn’t at all phase the former PSV Eindhoven winger, even though there has been a concern over the lack of success the US Men’s National team has enjoyed in recent years, in addition to the general downturn in Houston sports glory of late.

“I’m confident and optimistic about this new crop of players we have coming through and not just Christian [Pulisic],” Beasley continued.

“Just look at how many players we’ve had playing in the Champions League over the last two nights, there are 13 players under 24 years of age playing in the tournament and Americans have never seen anything like that.

“If we had a USMNT game here in Houston in 2026, it will be a sold-out stadium, Houston is ready to love their national team, but it will be a huge event no matter which games are played, I think the fans will come out in bunches simply because they love the game.”

There have been horror stories in years gone by about tournament bids which have been successful and then the stadiums are left inactive and in ruin, we’ve seen the infamous pictures of the now derelict Athens Aquatic Centre after 2004 as well as the abandoned Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, but why aren’t Houston 2026 officials at all worried?

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The answer to that question was provided by the president of the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee, Chris Canetti, who explained how football’s greatest showpiece coming to the Texas city would actually have a positive fiscal benefit for the region rather than a negative one, mainly due to the already built NRG Stadium.

“In 2017 we hosted the Superbowl, which is just one game on a Sunday afternoon with a weeks’ worth of events leading up to it, and that event had an economic impact of 347 million dollars to the region,” Canetti detailed to MARCA in English.

“If we’re in a position where we can host six games out in Houston, there’s going to be a significant economic impact that we rank north of 1 billion dollars, we’ve had local experts do a study on this and the estimate they came up with was 1.3 billion dollars of economic value to the city of Houston.

“Our stadium is world class, but all these arenas have master capital improvement plans anyway, and whether the World Cup comes here or not there has already been 40 to 50 million dollars’ worth of improvements budgeted for, although there are no major improvements that need to be made to host a World Cup, we have all the infrastructure already here.”

From a footballing standpoint nobody quite knows what the game will look like by the time the summer of 2026 arrives, especially with Spain’s two biggest clubs continuing to support the move towards a European Super League, yet what is almost certain is that both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo won’t still be playing international football by then.

This is an interesting quandary for the Houston 2026 team though, because football tournaments need to be marketed properly and it would be fair to assume that attempting to do that without the allure of Ronaldo and Messi for the first time since Japan and South Korea in 2002 may be a challenge.

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“The World Cup was here in 1994 and at the time nobody thought that a World Cup in the US could be a successful for a number of reasons, but it happened to be the most successful World Cup on record at the time in terms of ticket sales and revenue,” Canetti continued.

“Attendances won’t be a problem, we’re confident that in 2026 every single ticket for every single game will be sold.

“The World Cup is the most prestigious and popular event in the world, so we’re not too worried about whether some of these stars are going to be here or not, or even in some cases which national teams will be here in certain markets, this is such a grand event that the demand for tickets is going to be spectacular regardless.”





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