2026 FIFA World Cup

NEWS: Bay Area Host Committee Convenes Professional and Youth Soccer Organizations for Industry-First Collaboration to Grow Soccer Locally and Nationally 

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Santa Clara, Calif. (January 10, 2024) – Today, the Bay Area Host Committee (BAHC) announced a joint effort to grow the sport of soccer nationwide, with an initial emphasis on the Bay Area. The collaboration includes representatives of the largest soccer organizations in the region, including the San Jose Earthquakes, Bay FC, Monterey Bay FC, Cal North Youth Soccer, NorCal Premier, Oakland Roots SC, Oakland Soul SC and American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), a world-class non-profit devoted to developing quality youth soccer programs throughout the U.S. This is the first time these organizations have come together in pursuit of a common goal.

"We are thankful for this joint partnership of driven organizations dedicated to growing soccer's impact and accessibility as we near the arrival of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the Bay Area," said Shea Salinas, Earthquakes Club Ambassador and Head of Youth Soccer Partnerships. "This collaboration will add to our legacy of community stewardship and youth development, two values that are ingrained in our core mission."

“As the very first youth soccer association established in Northern California and in the United States dating back to 1969, it is our duty and responsibility to continue our efforts for the growth and development of soccer in this country,” said Marley Wilson, executive director of Cal North Youth Soccer. “We have a special opportunity here in Northern California with all of the soccer organizations involved, having the 2026 FIFA World Cup on the horizon, to truly make an impact in the sport of soccer.”

“Momentum around the sport of soccer is growing in the U.S., especially in the Bay Area,” said Andy Farrant, director of operations for NorCal Premier. “This culminates in a unique opportunity to engage youth in soccer, here at home and nationwide.”

With the support of and leadership by the BAHC, the council has established its primary objectives of providing access to the sport to youth limited by financial resources or other barriers while also continuing to keep kids engaged in the game for the long term.

“Across the country, while fandom and awareness of the sport is growing, soccer participation has been stagnant, largely because of resource and access challenges in communities where there are lots of kids who might otherwise play. Even in places where there are good participation levels, there is a steep drop off between the ages of 9 to 11,” said Dan Howald, senior vice president for AYSO. “We hope that by coming together to address this issue, we can provide a pathway for more children in more communities to learn the game, develop their skills, and ultimately, fall in love with the sport.”

The group will focus on developing youth soccer coaches through upskilling and training. They will also support programming that promotes the sport while leveraging funding, resources and expertise to increase access across Bay Area communities – specifically focusing on those with limited access to established youth soccer organizations. 

“Ensuring coaches have adequate training and resources is foundational to creating a more sustainable soccer ecosystem,” said Mike Geddes, cofounder and chief purpose officer for the Oakland Roots SC and Oakland Soul SC. “Combining our efforts isn’t only more strategic, but effective in magnifying our impact.”

Programming that will support the development of future soccer athletes in the Bay Area will be announced later in the year. The outcomes are expected to serve as an actionable blueprint for increasing participation in other markets across the country.