AFTER 19 SEASONS as Major League Soccer (MLS) club executive, Chris Canetti accepted the job of President of the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee in October 2018.
Canetti is now leading Houston’s efforts to become a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Canetti was with the Houston Dynamo for 13 years and served as President for eight years. When he stepped down to join Houston’s World Cup Bid Committee, he was the longest-tenured club President in Major League Soccer. He joined the Dynamo in its inaugural season of 2006 as the team’s Chief Operating Officer and was promoted to President in 2010.
With the Dynamo, he was part of eight MLS playoff appearances, including trips to seven Conference Finals and four MLS Cup Finals. He was a part of three championships, including two MLS Cup titles and one U.S. Open Cup title.
Canetti managed the public-private development of BBVA Stadium, a state-of-the-art venue that opened in 2012. Since then, BBVA Stadium has hosted a variety of great events, from Houston Dynamo and Dash games to international soccer, rugby, lacrosse, football, and concerts – including hit shows like Ed Sheeran and Kenny Chesney.
He also worked with the City of Houston to develop the Houston Sports Park, a multipurpose community sports venue that serves as the Dynamo and Dash’s training facility.
He oversaw the 2010 MLS All-Star Game at NRG Stadium that featured Manchester United and attracted a sellout crowd of 70,000 people, making it one of the top five attended All-Star games in United States history at the time.
During Canetti’s tenure with the Dynamo, he forged the club’s partnership with Rio Grande Valley FC, the Dynamo’s United Soccer League affiliate, and he was responsible for creating the Houston Dash, our city’s professional women’s soccer team.
Canetti serves or served on multiple non-profit boards, including the Greater Houston Boys & Girls Clubs, Central Houston, and the East End Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, he has led several community initiatives in and around Houston. He also fostered the creation of the Dynamo/Dash Youth Club, which begin in 2017 and has grown to include nearly 10,000 youth players of all ages and skill levels.
He has received numerous honors including the Sports Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award in 2010 and MLS Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year Award in 2008. He was recently honored by the American Diabetes Association with the Houston Chapter’s “Generosity to Mankind Award.”
His most notable community work was in 2013 when he led the efforts to support Newtown, CT after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. Canetti organized “Soccer Night in Newtown” which drew global soccer stars Landon Donovan and Mia Hamm and brought together the North American soccer community to provide hope and healing for the town. Canetti remained active in the Newtown community, and, in 2014, he was a recipient of a Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness award.
Canetti also spearheaded the Dynamo’s efforts to support first responders by recognizing members of the Newtown, CT and Boston, MA Police Departments after tragedies in its communities. He also led an initiative to support the Houston Fire Department after they lost four members of their squad in a 2013 fire.
Under his leadership, the Dynamo organization contributed to the community’s response after the Hurricane Harvey disaster. BBVA Stadium served as a drop off and distribution point for vital supplies, and the club organized a charitable celebrity match that raised funds for the relief efforts.
He also assisted the Santa Fe (TX) community after a tragic school shooting in 2018, working with a group of Santa Fe High School students to help launch a non-profit organization called Hearts United for Kindness.
Prior to joining the Dynamo, Canetti served as the Assistant General Manager for the New York Red Bulls of MLS. He joined the New York organization in 2000 when it was called the NY/NJ MetroStars. He spent six years with the team in various roles, including Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations.
Canetti’s first love was baseball, which he played in college. After graduation from Quinnipiac University in 1992, he spent six years working with the New Haven Ravens, a Double-A minor league baseball affiliate of the Seattle Mariners and Colorado Rockies. – the last three as the team’s General Manager. He was just 26 when he moved to GM, making him the youngest GM in baseball.
Prior to joining the Ravens, Canetti was an Associate Sports Editor for the Shoreline Times in Guilford, CT. He received his bachelor’s degree from Quinnipiac University and was a four-year letterman for the Bobcats’ baseball team.
He lives in the Houston-area with his wife, Judi, and daughters Kara and Ella.