Houston 2026 is aiming to stage World Cup matches ©Houston 2026

Houston 2026 Bid Committee President Chris Canetti believes the American city can form a "geographic cluster" with Mexico to help host the FIFA World Cup in four years’ time.

The state of Texas features two cities aiming to stage World Cup matches in 2026 with Houston and Dallas both in contention.

They are among 23 contenders bidding for two of the 16 spots as host cities for the event staged across the US, Mexico and Canada.

But Canetti said Houston does not view Dallas as rivals as he instead believes their neighbour's bid can boost their own chances due to their proximity to Mexico.

"FIFA is going to pick the 10 best US cities and I am very confident that both Houston and Dallas are top-10 cities," said Canetti.

"The fact we are in the same state is not a negative factor at all.

"I think we are both strong, deserving cities.

"We are well connected, so we are easy to get back and forth to which would be advantageous to FIFA keeping in mind that there are going to be three cities in Mexico that will promote this geographic cluster strategy.

"We are all within a couple of hours flight of one another so I think it would be a really smart move to have Houston, Dallas and Mexico combined.

"Creating what we are calling a geographic cluster where you can have numerous cites in geographic cluster that are easy to get back and forth to for the players, fans, match officials, FIFA officials and media.

"Our proximity to Mexico is a huge advantage for us."

FIFA officials visit Houston's NRG Stadium during its inspection of the American city ©Houston 2026
FIFA officials visit Houston's NRG Stadium during its inspection of the American city ©Houston 2026

Unlike Dallas, Houston did not stage matches when the US last hosted the World Cup in 1994 but Canetti claims they have played host to more sporting events than any other in the US since 2004.

Among those events are the Super Bowl, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s March Madness and international football matches.

They all took place at the 72,000-capacity NRG Stadium which is central to Houston’s bid to stage FIFA World Cup fixtures in 2026.

Canetti said hosting the World Cup in Houston would have a massive impact on the city which is the fourth most populous in the US.

"We had the World Cup in the United States in 1994 and we are still feeling the positive impacts of that event so many years later," said Canetti.

"That was the catalyst for the growth of the game in this country.

"It led to the launch of the Major Soccer League and eventually the Houston Dynamos being formed.

"Just having these things take place helps grow the game, bring more interest and participation and enhance the development of players.

"By hosting the World Cup in Houston I am confident that it’s going to have a significant impact."

The Houston 2026 Bid Committee has spent more than $2 million (£1.47 million/€1.76 million), according to Canetti.

The coronavirus pandemic was cited by Canetti as the reason for an increase in spending over the past three years.

"We have had financial support to be able to get there," said Canetti.

"The fact we were able to get companies to support us financially on a bid just shows you that this city is ready to get behind us in a big way if we actually win."

As part of the bidding process, a 25-strong FIFA delegation inspected Houston in October last year to run the rule over its prospects of holding World Cup matches.

Officials from FIFA toured the NRG Stadium before being taken on the metro ride into the city centre.

They also visited possible training sites in Houston, including the BBVA Stadium, the Aveva Stadium, the University of Houston and Rice University.

A decision on the 2026 World Cup host cities is expected to be made in April with Canetti optimistic over Houston’s chances of making the coveted list.

"I feel very confident because I know that Houston has what it takes to be a host city," said Canetti.

"We are very strong and a lot of things going in our favour.

"I think we have done a great job over the past three years in running this bid, leaving no stone unturned.

"But you never know what is going to happen at the end of the day and you can’t rest on your laurels.

"With a couple of months left to go with this process we are going to continue to try to put our best foot forward and make sure Houston is one of the finalists."