(Reuters) - Robert Kraft, owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and Major League Soccer's Revolution, has been named honorary chairman of the board for the joint 2026 World Cup bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States.
"Robert Kraft has been one of the most influential figures in modern professional sports in the United States," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati in a statement on Wednesday.
"He is a leader who saw the potential of soccer in America early on and has been heavily invested in the success and growth of the game over the last three decades.
"Robert will be a great asset to our effort to bring the 2026 FIFA World Cup to North America."
While Kraft is best known for his Super Bowl winning National Football League team, the billionaire businessman has also been at the forefront of the growth of professional soccer in the United States as owner of one of Major League Soccer's 10 charter clubs.
"My first exposure to world class soccer and the unique power of the FIFA World Cup came in 1994 when we hosted six games at Foxboro Stadium," said Kraft in a statement. "The FIFA World Cup's ability to build bridges and bring people together is unlike any other medium.
"By 2026, more than 30 years will have passed since we hosted the FIFA World Cup and its return to North America is long overdue."
The United Bid Committee kicked off its efforts last week with a formal launch and the commencement of an outreach program to more than 40 cities.
The deadline for the submission of the formal bid to FIFA is March 16.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)