TACOMA, Wash. — The first official cultural sponsor of Seattle’s 2026 World Cup organizing committee has been announced, and FIFA called the news a historic commitment from indigenous peoples.
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians on Tuesday said it has made a financial commitment to the Seattle group, which is the nonprofit tasked with organizing what could be the biggest one-time sporting event in the Emerald City's history.
“It's gonna take us to another level,” Puyallup Tribe Chairman Bill Sterud said in an interview with KOMO News ahead of the formal announcement.
Sterud, who would not disclose the financial commitment, acknowledged it is important for the tribe to see the salmon logo displayed on all World Cup marketing and signs. He says it would not be much different from how the tribe incorporated its messaging into the Sounders FC uniforms and signage at Lumen Field.
In fact, the relationship with one-time President of Business Operations Peter Tomozawa, who now is running the World Cup planning committee, led to the deal.
“It’s critical,” Tomozawa said in advance of Tuesday's announcement. “This is the first time in the history that FIFA are allowing local organizing committees to have their own sponsorships, their own partnerships, we call them supporters.”
Tomozawa says there will be 10 total sponsorships, and that the money will be used for mitigation and getting around thousands of fans, media and stakeholders during the summer of 2026.
“We've got plenty of things to pay for their safety," he said. "We want to make sure this is a completely safe event, (like with) transportation, we'll be building a fan festival.
"(This is the) first time in history that an indigenous peoples have ever dared to be part of the World Cup in this way."
Both Sterud and Tomozawa reject any idea the deal has anything to do with gambling.
This is a cultural partnership," Tomozawa said. "This is about bringing their people their story in their own voice to the world. This well transcends beyond anything to do with business and all those types of things.
In fact, Sterud — as he stood at the ancestral waters of the Puyallup near Commencement Bay — said his organization is looking to take advantage of the people who will be looking for a place to stay. He says the tribe’s new 150-person hotel will be ready to host guests, and a float plane terminal and restaurant along Ruston Way will also be ready and fully operational for the games.
“There's a lots of different ways of dealing in an international world," Sterud said. "We want to be in, with our international trade, it's kind of a good partnership to for that, as well as there's not going to be enough room for everybody in Seattle. It just means a lot for our tribe, getting on the international stage.”
The Seattle World Cup organizing committee should find out later this year how many games it will host. Tomozawa has suggested Seattle, under the expanded World Cup format, could get as many as six games, which would be like six Super Bowls in terms of interest and exposure.
FIFA has already announced the 2026 World Cup will have 104 matches, which is 40 more than any previous event, and it will feature 48 teams instead of 32. Seattle is one of 16 host cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Tomozawa has made the claim it will be the biggest international draw for Seattle since the 1962 World’s Fair.