LISC is helping lead a multinational effort that will build new community soccer fields and expand sports programming in connection with the "United Bid” for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Dubbed 26x26, the effort includes $30 million in local investments and will engage 1 million youth in health and recreation programs.
Global coalition responds to United Bid win for 2026 FIFA World Cup with $30M plan to build community soccer fields, empower 1 million kids across North America
“26x26” will connect residents, fans, athletes, investors and philanthropic groups in soccer-driven effort to revitalize communities in ramp up to 2026 FIFA World Cup
NEW YORK (June 29, 2018)—The winning United 2026 World Cup bid has not only energized North American soccer fans with the promise of elite matches played in home stadiums. It has sparked a multinational community investment effort that will develop local soccer fields and support youth programs in host cities.
Known as 26x26—reflecting the 26 new and renovated fields that will be opened by the 2026 kickoff—the project is designed to transform play “deserts” and underutilized spaces into safe and accessible soccer pitches that create hubs for healthy activity and community assets. The program will expand youth outreach in underserved communities across the United States, Canada and Mexico and engage fans as volunteers to help advance local goals.
The $30 million effort is driven by an unprecedented partnership that includes one of the largest U.S. community development organizations (LISC), a prominent British soccer philanthropy (Lionsraw), the largest soccer fan group in U.S. (American Outlaws) and a global powerhouse in children’s health (UNICEF). It has already attracted world-class ambassadors in American soccer stars Landon Donovan and Kyle Martino, and soccer broadcaster Rob Stone.
26x26 is expected to reach 1 million kids, ages 4-18, over 10 years and make significant contributions to local economic development efforts, focusing particularly on communities that are often overlooked for investment. Locations for full-sized fields have yet to be finalized, though there are likely to be 20 in the U.S. and three each in Canada and Mexico.
“Major sporting events like the World Cup can be a powerful catalyst for community gains that range from better health and safety to advances in education, jobs and local income,” notes Maurice A. Jones, president and CEO of LISC, which has invested more than $18 billion to revitalize U.S. communities over the last four decades. “We’ve seen this in our efforts all across the country: investments in sports and recreation can help improve a community’s quality of life.”
Each of the partners will contribute their particular expertise and experience to 26x26, which will be jointly managed by LISC and Lionsraw.
As part of its roll-out this fall, 26x26 will incorporate World Cup-related events in host cities, including youth leadership and soccer training, Kid Power, and live game-viewing parties.
“I love hosting the World cup on Fox, but to host it in the U.S. will be amazing,” said Rob Stone, Fox Sports’ 2018 World Cup sportscaster and an ambassador for 26x26. “I am even more excited to help 26 communities across Canada, Mexico and the U.S. experience the transforming power of soccer. I encourage others to join me to see this dream become a reality.”
With residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. Since 1979, LISC has invested $18.6 billion to build or rehab 376,000 affordable homes and apartments and develop 63 million square feet of retail, community and educational space.
Lionsraw delivers projects that relieve and prevent poverty through sports programs designed to alleviate and educate around root causes. Since 2010, Lionsraw has completed nine projects in seven countries, catalyzing thousands of volunteers and impacting more than 6,000 youth. Visit www.lionsraw.org.
The American Outlaws is the largest organized soccer supporters group in the world, with more than 28,000 members in 197 chapters across the U.S., Mexico and the United Kingdom. AO Impact is a strategic partnership between Lionsraw and The American Outlaws. Its objective is to serve communities across the USA where members live, work and play through volunteerism. Visit www.aoimpact.org.
UNICEF Kid Power is a program of UNICEF USA which gives kids the power to save lives by connecting their physical activity to social impact. With UNICEF Kid Power, kids run, jump and dance to unlock funding from partners which UNICEF uses to deliver lifesaving nutrition to severely malnourished children. The more kids move, the more lives they save. With this lifesaving impact, kids become more aware of the world around them, and are empowered to solve the challenges they face in their own communities. Visit www.unicefkidpower.org.