Soccerex USA Opening Ceremony
November 15, 2018
“Growing the Global Game Together”
Good morning! To Mayor Suarez, Joe [DaGrosa], Victor [Montagliani], Philippe [Moggio], fellow presidents from across CONCACAF and everyone at Soccerex—it’s great to be with you. On behalf of everyone at U.S. Soccer, we’re honored to be your partner here at Soccerex USA.
I have to say, on a very personal level, I’m thrilled that Soccerex has come to Miami. My family and I immigrated to the United States when I was a teenager, and we settled right here in Miami. This community and this country welcomed us with open arms. Today, I still call this city home—so on behalf of all of us here in Miami, welcome to our hometown.
We’re all here at Soccerex USA for the same reason. We all love the beautiful game, and we all want to bring it to more people in more places. Here in Miami, we’re reminded how we can do it. Here, we welcome people from across the Caribbean, Latin America and around the world. We’re a melting pot of cultures and traditions. And, of course, Miami is proud to be the home and headquarters of CONCACAF. In other words, the only way we’re going to grow the global game is by growing it together.
Here in the United States, we approach this work with humility. In most of the world, football is a way of life. In the U.S., we’re still building our soccer culture. Yes, we have our challenges, and we’re working to meet them.
At the same time, as we look to the future, we couldn’t be more optimistic. By every measure, soccer in the U.S. is more popular than ever. Our professional leagues are thriving and growing, and viewership is surging. The millions of boys and girls playing in our youth leagues—and rising talent on our youth national teams—are the stars of tomorrow. Just two days ago, I was in Bradenton with our U-20 men’s team and their talent and diversity is an inspiration.
In Miami and across the country, soccer is beloved by vibrant immigrant communities. Among millennials, soccer now ties with basketball as the second most favorite sport to watch. Among Generation Z, kids about 8 to 23, it’s even more popular. In other words, demographics favor soccer. Which is why—with more than 300 million people, more of whom are playing or watching soccer than ever before—the United States represents the greatest immediate opportunity to grow the global game.
We’re optimistic for another reason—because the United States, Mexico and Canada won our historic bid to co-host the FIFA World Cup in 2026. I want to take this opportunity to once again thank our great partners and friends at the Canadian federation, the Mexican federation, and so many of you—the 41 federations of CONCACAF.
We cannot thank CONCACAF enough—we could not have won without you. Your unanimous endorsement of our bid sent a powerful signal to the world, allowing us to build a strong coalition of support. As a result, the FIFA World Cup will come back to CONCACAF in 2026—for the first time in more than 30 years.
We see hosting as a once-in-a-generation opportunity—not just in 2026, but during the eight years leading up to it—an eight-year runway to grow the game together. In the U.S., the excitement and energy leading up to 2026 will inspire a new generation, bring more players into our ranks and bring us closer to our vision—making soccer the preeminent sport in the United States.
Across the region, 2026 will reinforce our One CONCACAF Vision—championed by Victor, who you’ll be hearing from in a few moments—and give us the opportunity to turn CONCACAF into one of the most vibrant football communities in the world.
And with the massive North American sports market—the largest in the world—2026 gives us the opportunity to introduce FIFA to potential partnerships that will generate record profits and more funds for programs like FIFA Forward to develop football in every region of the world.
After all, in a world where the forces of division so often try to pull us apart, football brings us together. We saw this in our United Bid when our three countries came together—as equal partners—to offer what no one country could provide alone.
We saw the power of football as we met with federations around the world, listening to their experiences and realizing that—big or small, developed or developing—we’re all part of the same global football family. We all face so many of the same challenges. We can all learn from each other.
And I felt the spirit of this game in the final moments of our presentation to the FIFA Congress in Moscow—Americans, Mexicans and Canadians, standing together, arm in arm, united in football. That’s the power of football to bring people together. That’s why we’re all here at Soccerex USA.
So, welcome to Miami. Have a wonderful two days. And make the most of this incredible opportunity to network and forge new partnerships. On behalf of everyone at U.S. Soccer, we look forward to working with you to grow the beautiful game, in our own countries and around the world.
Thank you all so much.