The Sounders announced Thursday the executive committee charged with bringing the 2026 FIFA World Cup to Seattle.
Headlined by power couple Ciara and Russell Wilson, the committee is helping to shape a vision for what the World Cup soccer experience would be in the city. FIFA’s delegation, including CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani, is visiting eight potential host cities the upcoming week, ending with Seattle’s visit from Oct. 31 through Nov. 1.
The visits are designed to meet with local stakeholders to discuss venue management, infrastructure, sustainability, commercial legacy and legal matters, according to a Sounders news release. The delegation will also inspect stadiums, training facilities and potential fan festival sites.
Seattle’s executive committee helped brand the city’s bid as SEA 2026. Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer is the chair with outgoing major Jenny Durkan as the honorary chair. Ciara, a Grammy Award-winning artist, and her husband Wilson, who helped bring a Super Bowl championship to Seattle, join Microsoft CFO Amy Hood, Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman to round out the executive committee.
SEA 2026’s presentation to FIFA will encompass three principals in soccer, innovation and inclusion, according to the release.
Founded in 1974, the Sounders’ early days were as a NASL team that played at Memorial Stadium and the Kingdome. The club often played before large crowds and against top-tier talent such as Pele.
The modern-day Sounders joined MLS in 2009 and have advanced to the league’s championship match in four of the past five seasons. The 2019 MLS Cup win was played before 69,274 fans at Lumen Field — an obvious indicator of the region’s passion for the global sport.
“I have been a part of this sport since I attended Seattle Sounders camps as an 8-year-old while the club was playing in the original NASL,” Hanauer said in a news release. “To be on the cusp of bringing the FIFA World Cup to the Pacific Northwest is something we can all take a great deal of pride from. We’re not there quite yet, but thanks to the hard work of countless people behind the scenes and our incredible community for supporting the sport of soccer, we believe we can show FIFA why Seattle deserves to host the World Cup in 2026.”
For innovation, SEA 2026 points to Seattle being a longstanding leader in technology, aerospace, music and agriculture. For inclusivity, the executive committee notes the completion of the city’s waterfront park and Seattle being equidistant between Asia and Europe and Portland to Vancouver, British Columbia. There’s also the region’s diversity from race, nationality to the LGBTQIA2s+ community.
The Seahawks’ Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC) will be part of the tour, but the Sounders have long planned to build their own training facility and those plans are expected to be reviewed. The club currently trains at Starfire Sports in Tukwila, which has pristine grass fields.
There are 22 cities competing to host World Cup games. The tournament was expanded to feature 48 teams and 16 venues are expected to be chosen, 11 of which are pegged to be in U.S. cities. Matches will also take place in Canada and Mexico.
FIFA’s delegation is also visiting Kansas City, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Monterrey, Mexico and San Francisco this month. The governing body announced in January that it would appoint its World Cup cities by the last quarter of 2021.