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Sounders could host Club World Cup matches

In exclusive interview with Sounder at Heart, Adrian Hanauer casts doubt on reports of guaranteed $50 million payout.

Last Updated
3 min read
Dane Kuhn / Sounders FC Communications

The biggest club soccer tournament in history will be coming to the United States next summer when FIFA stages the first-ever 32-team Club World Cup. So far, the Seattle Sounders are the only MLS team to qualify. The Columbus Crew can join them if they win the Concacaf Champions Cup final tonight against Pachuca and there will likely be one more MLS team representing the host country, but FIFA has not yet revealed how that team will be selected.

Although the bulk of the tournament is expected to be held on the East Coast, Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer recently told Sounder at Heart that there remains the possibility that some games could be played at Lumen Field.

“There’s still not any determination in ink as to where these games will all be,” Hanauer said during an interview that will be released in full on Monday. “Maybe with a little bit of luck and persuasion, maybe we’re playing in front of our home fans.”

One possible scenario is for Lumen Field to be one of two stadiums on the West Coast where group-stage games would be held. The Sounders would likely play two games here and one more at the other stadium.

Hanauer was more skeptical about reports claiming every team in the tournament would be guaranteed a payout of at least $50 million. The Sounders previously received $500,000 for appearing in the 2023 Club World Cup from a total prize pool of $16 million. Although this tournament is likely to have a significantly increased payout, reports that the prize pool would be close to $3 billion are lightly sourced. As of about a week ago, Hanauer said he had not been told how much to expect and he was unsure when he would know.

Hanauer did, however, pledge to make necessary investments in the roster to give the Sounders their best opportunity at a respectable showing in a tournament that will feature some of the world’s biggest and richest clubs.

“We want to go into the Club World Cup with a squad we feel can compete,” he said. “But being realistic, there is some disparity in some spending. We aren’t going to put a team on paper that can, or should compete with Manchester City. But we can have 11 players on the field that will work harder than them? Be more committed to each other? Be more motivated by this tournament?

“We will do what we need to do to have as competitive of a squad as we can for Club World Cup,” he continued. “But we have to balance that being three games minimum and potentially just three games, we need to focus on that as well as MLS, as well as Leagues Cup … we’ll see if we play Open Cup in 25.”