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Miami FIFA World Cup Committee CEO's goal: Make city 'the envy' of all other 2026 host cities

GOAT Gamble: Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates with teammates and supporters after winning the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.
Frank Augstein
/
AP
GOAT Gamble: Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates with teammates and supporters after winning the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.

At six years old, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo knew she was a hospitality professional in the making.

Her parents owned a coffee shop and restaurant business in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Lutoff-Perlo recalls begging her mom to allow her to work. So one day her mom turned over a milk crate and let her make change for the coffee shop customers.

“There was something about the energy of being around people,” Lutoff-Perlo said. “I loved, loved creating great experiences for them.”

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo was named president and CEO in May. She is now part of the sports world after spending nearly 40 years in the cruise industry.
2026 World Cup Miami Host Committee
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo was named president and CEO in May. She is now part of the sports world after spending nearly 40 years in the cruise industry.

Lutoff-Perlo built a long career in the hospitality industry, having worked for nearly 40 years with cruise ship companies. Most recently, she served as the vice chairman of external affairs for the Royal Caribbean Group. Before that, she was the President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises for almost a decade — the first woman to take the helm of a Royal Caribbean Group brand.

Now, she’s taking that experience to the sporting industry as the president and CEO of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Miami Host Committee.

“The spotlight will be on Miami as an international business and lifestyle capital during FIFA World Cup 2026. We sought a CEO and leader who understands this opportunity and brings a global perspective, true vision, and tremendous passion to deliver an unforgettable experience for fans while maximizing the economic impact for the region,” said Rodney Barreto, chairman and CEO of the Barreto Group, and co-chair of the Miami Host Committee.

“Lisa has all these traits, and her extraordinary business and hospitality experience will help her rise to this monumental occasion to foster both an original and bottom-line approach that will make us the envy of the North American host cities,” Barreto said.

The Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens will host seven matches at the 2026 FIFA World Cup, including the bronze final clash. The 104-game tournament features 48 teams across 16 host cities in three countries — Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

About 600,000 fans are expected to come to South Florida in the summer of 2026.

READ MORE: South Florida's Argentina fans spill into the streets to cheer first World Cup win in decades

“It’s exciting times for Miami-Dade and South Florida as the community prepares and plans for the World Cup 2026. [The] news that Lisa Lutoff-Perlo will lead the professional team as CEO and President is great momentum as the work continues to get ready for 2026,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who is also the head of the host committee’s advisory board.

“I have great trust that the Board of Directors comprised of community and business leaders will work alongside the leadership of Lisa and her team to make sure South Florida shines on the global stage during this once-in-a-lifetime event," Levine Cava said.

Lutoff-Perlo tells WLRN she's excited to build enthusiasm in the community about South Florida hosting World Cup games.

" I am committed to making Miami the envy of all the other host cities in North America and to make sure that Miami shines on this global stage that we now have the opportunity to be a part of," Lutoff-Perlo added.

Though Lutoff-Perlo comes from outside the sports world, she says the people she met in the cruise industry taught her about the 'real football' game.

"Our crew was from all over the world and they knew nothing about American football,” she said. “I would educate them on American football and they would educate me on the real football. And what I realized was — it was a passion unlike any other I had ever seen."

To excite the community about the World Cup coming to Miami, the host committee will have an event called “Fan Fest” with food, entertainment, and game viewing parties.

“We're going to show off Miami and all the things that are special about Miami in a really unique way,” Lutoff-Perlo said.

The Host Committee will also work on two “legacy projects” — one with a focus on helping improve the South Florida community and the other centered on the environment. Details have not yet been determined.

Lutoff-Perlo says the World Cup games are expected to generate a $1.3 billion economic impact in South Florida. And create about 10,000 jobs for the local community, with the help of about 10,000 volunteers.

The Miami-Dade County Commission agreed last month to spend more than $10 million to help support events during the FIFA World Cup. And at least another $20 million in support from law enforcement.

“I have great excitement around what I am doing over these next couple of years because of the positive impact on the community and how exciting this is for Miami,” Lutoff-Perlo said.

Tickets for the 2026 World Cup are not yet on sale, but those interested can register on the FIFA website to receive information when it becomes available.

Ammy Sanchez, the Morning Edition producer for WLRN, studies communications at the Honors College at Florida International University.
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