Bring the World Cup to Seattle, says Ilan Piker, a Redmond High senior.
The Crossfire Premier soccer player, who will be headed to Cornell University to compete in the fall, voiced his opinion on the scenario while strolling near the field with friends at halftime of the recent Redmond, Lake Washington boys match.
“I think we’re great,” Piker said of Seattle, which has been named one of 23 host city candidates in the United Bid — United States, Canada and Mexico — for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. “We’ve been developing a lot economically and everything, and soccer-wise, it’s getting huge here. I think it will be great place for fans all around to come and support. I’m personally excited, I’d pay a lot to go to a World Cup game if it was here.”
Pike has spent nearly his whole life with a soccer ball at his feet and noted that the teams he’s played for have helped him grow as a person and as a player.
Added Mount Si boys soccer coach Darren Brown: “The Pacific Northwest in general has great fans in the sport. Portland and Seattle are similar where the fan base gets behind their teams.”
According to a US Soccer press release, the number and diversity of cities in Canada, Mexico and the United States represent the most comprehensive and far-reaching hosting strategy ever developed for a mega-sporting event. The United Bid’s hosting vision and strategy projects more than 5.8 million tickets will be sold, generating in excess of $2 billion in ticketing revenue.
If the United Bid scores, FIFA will select up to 16 host cities out of the 23 on the proposed lineup for the 23rd Cup, which will be the first tournament with the expanded 48-team format, up from 32 teams.
“Canada, Mexico, and the United States have joined together to deliver a United Bid that offers FIFA and its member associations the power of unity, the promise of certainty, and the potential of extraordinary opportunity,” said John Kristick, executive director of the United Bid. “We are confident that the combination of our 23 existing world-class stadiums, 150 existing elite training facilities, and our modern and interconnected transportation network can help FIFA to achieve new records for attendance and revenue, which will allow the entire global football community to improve and grow.”
The United Bid and one from Morocco are the two official bids on the table. Evaluations will take place through June 13, when the FIFA Congress will reveal its final decision.
King County Executive Dow Constantine has dribbled on board the United Bid’s three-pronged-country game plan. He’s backing the hat trick to the hilt.
“King County is well suited to host the world’s game in 2026 and we strongly encourage FIFA and the United Bid Committee to recognize our unique, welcoming, soccer-frenzied culture,” he said in a statement.
Bernie James — a Crossfire Premier coach, former professional soccer player and Bellevue High graduate — said he feels Seattle is the best soccer town in the country and the passionate fans should be treated to World Cup matches. To add to his United Bid approval and Seattle’s stellar soccer atmosphere, he said that, “according to Soccer America, we produce more professional players per 100,000 participants than any other state.”
Over at Eastside FC, director of operations Chance Fry — also a former pro player and Sammamish High grad — said Seattle is ready to get in the World Cup game.
“This is not a surprise as Seattle has proven itself over time as an extremely supportive soccer city, especially for our national team. Additionally, being a diverse cosmopolitan city, wonderful destination for tourists and our close proximity to Vancouver, we could host any of the games and they would easily sell out,” he said.
Fry feels Seattle is a great soccer city because it consists of a massive amount of residents who have participated in the sport over the decades.
“There is such a love and understanding for the game in this community,” he said. “Coupled with the long history of the Sounders and growing history of the Reign, Seattle has something soccer for everyone.”