FIFA World Cup 2026: Navigating the Hosting Process

The FIFA World Cup is one of the most prestigious global tournaments in soccer. Held every four years, cities and countries spend billions of dollars preparing for and hosting the event. So, how does the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) select host locations?

On today’s episode of Suite Talk: The Business Behind Sports, host Patrick Rishe speaks with Janis Burke, the CEO of the Harris County, Houston Sports Authority, to share a behind the scenes look at FIFA’s selection process and Houston’s preparation for the event.

FIFA selects the host country for the World Cup through a bidding process. Countries interested in hosting the tournament submit a bid to FIFA, outlining their plans for hosting the tournament. These plans include the stadiums and other facilities that will be used, transportation and accommodation arrangements, and security and safety measures.

“Just trying to lead into it for about a decade before we got into the bid process because we knew the USA would bid again, just a matter of when. We wanted to make sure that we had hosted enough international soccer matches that we had a track record in,” said Burke. The bidding process typically takes place several years before the tournament. FIFA evaluates the bids and selects a shortlist of countries considered potential host nations.

Patrick and Janis also discussed…

● How Texas is preparing for the tournament and pre-movement for the upcoming events

● Why the major event reimbursement program is critical for a hosting country

● What budget method they are implementing and how Harris County approaches raising $60+ million in sponsorship dollars.

“FIFA has allowed each city to have ten major partners that can use the actual property,” said Burke.

Janis Burke has been CEO of the Harris County–Houston Sports Authority since 2006. She became the third chief executive and the first woman to hold the position of the organization. Burke is leading the charge in preparing for the next FIFA World Cup in Summer 2026, with Houston as one of many host cities across North America.

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