Former Celebrity Cruises CEO to Lead World Cup Locally

The host committee is also enlisting the support of a historic alliance of South Florida leaders.

Former Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo has been named president and CEO of The FIFA World Cup 2026 Miami Host Committee. The cup could arguably be the biggest event in South Florida history—even bigger than past Super Bowls—with an expected 600,000 visitors, Lutoff-Perlo says. That includes 450,000 at Hard Rock Stadium for the games and another 150,000 just soaking in the atmosphere surrounding the cup.

“There’ll be viewing parties and fan fests and people just want to be in the city and the place where it’s all happening, whether or not they can actually be in the stadium,” Lutoff-Perlo said during an interview.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

Seven matches will be held at Hard Rock in Miami Gardens, including the bronze final in July 2026. The economic impact is estimated to be at least $90 million. Hard Rock will adopt the name Miami Stadium during the Cup, consistent with stadiums in other host cities.

The U.S., Canada and Mexico are hosting the cup in 2026, starting on June 11 with a game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City and the final championship on July 19 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

At Miami Stadium, the quarterfinal game will be on July 11 and the third-place game will be on July 18.

“This is a global event, so North America is on the global stage,” Lutoff-Perlo says. “The United States has 11 out of 16 cities that are going to be hosting these events. This is ginormous and everyone from all over the world, including heads of states and dignitaries and leaders are going to be in the United States.”

FIFA estimates the total audience at 19 billion over 40 days, based on many fans watching multiple games. The world population is only 8 billion.

“I really want Miami to be the showcase of the FIFA World Cup matches and show off as a city and really be the envy of every other city in North America that’s hosting,” Lutoff-Perlo says. “Hosting matches create an experience that people will never forget and the community will never forget and leave a lasting legacy that people will never forget.”

Lutoff-Perlo’s experience in the complicated logistics of running a cruise line will be useful in her new role.

“This is multifaceted, the logistics, the security, moving people, transportation events. You’ve got all of these different cities in Miami, these counties that are involved,” she says. “I’m used to intricate logistical operations with ships sailing all over the world and making things happen and creating great experiences. So, I bring some of that experience along with me. I ran a serious business and this is a serious business.”

Rodney Barreto, chairman and CEO of the Barreto Group, and co-chair of the host committee, said the group was seeking a 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. 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.” 

Lutoff-Perlo lives in Plantation and is on the board of directors for AutoNation (NYSE: AN) and chair of United Way of Broward County. During her career, she has received numerous lifetime achievement awards and distinctions from organizations including Forbes, PR Week, and the Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation, as well as numerous South Florida institutions. 

She is the recipient of an SFBW Apogee Award and is in the Nova Southeastern University Business and Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. https://sfbwmag.com/lisa-lutoff-perlo-bob-moss-stephen-ross-joining-nsu-business-and-entrepreneurship-hall-of-fame/

She was featured in a 2022 interview https://sfbwmag.com/celebrity-cruises-ceo-and-president-lisa-lutoff-perlo-has-forged-a-singular-career-in-a-quintessential-south-florida-industry/ and a 2016 CEO Connect that acknowledge her pioneering roles as a female in the cruise industry https://sfbwmag.com/cruising-pioneer/.

She’s already experiencing a wave of businesses wanting to be sponsors and volunteers wanting to help.

“As soon as you say that you are associated with the World Cup and these seven matches in Miami, it is unbelievable how many people want to get involved financially, from a volunteer perspective, serving on host committees for certain things that we need to do and different projects that we’re going to have to go. It’s overwhelming and it’s just wonderful.”

(Those interested in learning more may email the Host Committee at [email protected] or visit www.MiamiFWC26.com. Follow @FWC26Miami.)

Janelle Prieto, chief marketing and community officer, and Ray Martinez, chief operating officer, will join Lutoff-Perlo on the leadership team.

Prior to joining the FIFA World Cup 2026 operations team, Prieto led corporate communications, public relations, and social responsibility for its Host Confederation, the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf); served as vice president of communications, marketing, and community partnerships for the Miami Super Bowl LIV Host Committee; and held executive positions with Diageo and Jackson Memorial Hospital Foundation. 

Previously serving as president and executive director for the 2020 Miami Super Bowl Committee, Martinez also has more than 35 years of law enforcement experience, including Miami Beach chief of police.

The host committee is also enlisting the support of a historic alliance of local leaders from Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, plus state representatives. The group led by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava includes Broward County Mayor Nan Rich, Palm Beach County Mayor Maria Sachs, Monroe County Mayor Holly Merrill Raschein, Miami Gardens Mayor Rodney Harris, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Miami Beach Mayor Steven Meiner, and State Senator and Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation Chair Ana Maria Rodriguez.

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