Harris County – Houston Sports Authority, Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee Announce John Arnold as Chairman
Houston philanthropist to help guide Host City Bid
HOUSTON – He was a successful energy trader, the founder of one of the top energy investment companies in the country and a man who retired at 38 and immediately proceeded to redefine giving back.
Now Houston philanthropist John Arnold will help guide the city’s bid to become a host city for the 2026 World Cup as Chairman of the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee. In his new position, Arnold will work with Bid Committee President Chris Canetti to bring one of the biggest sporting events in the world to Houston.
“Having John Arnold head our bid committee is a terrific step forward in our efforts to bring the World Cup to our community,’’ said Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Chairman J. Kent Friedman. “We know our region has what it takes to successfully host World Cup matches, but we will take nothing for granted.
“It is our job to go out and tell our story to get the local support we’ll need, put together a world class bid, and show the world what the Greater Houston-Harris County area has to offer.”
The 44-year-old Vanderbilt graduate closed his investment business to focus his energies on the foundation he and his wife run. Founded just 12 years ago, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation is already among the 25 most active charitable foundations in the United States. LJAF focuses on areas of national public policy, including criminal justice reform, health care costs, K-12 education, public finance, and public health. The Arnolds have been recognized as among the 20 most philanthropic Americans for the past several years
“It is an honor and privilege to add John Arnold to our team,’’ Canetti said. “Securing Houston as a World Cup site is an important initiative, and to have one of the most influential leaders of our community on board for the process is a tremendous development. I look forward to working with John on this meaningful project and doing what it takes to win the bid.”
Arnold’s passion for business and philanthropy is matched only by his passion for soccer. He has been to every World Cup since 1994 – the last time it was held in the U.S. – and is excited to begin working with Canetti.
“Bringing the world’s most popular sporting event to our nation’s most diverse city is a challenge I look forward to leading,’’ Arnold said. “Soccer has been a lifelong passion of mine and it’s a distinct honor to represent my hometown in making this a reality.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner said Arnold was the perfect choice to lead the committee.
“Houston is a world-class sports city, so being able to bid on the 2026 World Cup is a natural fit. To improve our potential for success, we have selected a great captain and true leader in John Arnold, who will chair the bid committee,” Mayor Turner said.
“We all remember how successful Super Bowl LI was and the positive value it brought to our city. The Super Bowl was one game with over 10 days of related activities. The World Cup would be the equivalent to hosting six Super Bowls in one month. We have the facilities and the partnerships to host the best World Cup matches in history.”
The 2026 event will be a collaboration between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Houston is one of 17 U.S. cities vying for the 10 American host city spots. The World Cup is the most popular sporting even in the world. More than half of the world watched the 2018 World Cup in Russia with 3.5 billion people worldwide watching it on a variety of platforms. A stunning 1.1 billion watched France defeat Croatia 4-2 in the Final.
“The World Cup shines a light on the best of international collaboration. Harris County reflects our world with its diversity and welcoming spirit. We have world-class facilities and have already hosted successful major sporting events in partnership with Houston. It would be an incredible opportunity for our region to host the 2026 World Cup” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
“I am grateful to the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation and the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee for all of their hard work in making a World Cup bid a reality.”
Arnold serves on the boards of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investor-led venture capital firm dedicated to funding transformational technologies that will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions; Civica, Inc., a nonprofit generic pharmaceutical company; and The City Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting new governance models in K-12 education.