Canadian cities anticipate World Cup windfall

OTTAWA, June 16– Vancouver and Toronto will be the Canadian host cities for the 2026 World Cup when the country co-hosts the men’s soccer tournament with the U.S. and Mexico, FIFA announced Thursday. “We’re not hosting the largest ever World Cup just for kicks. Canada and Mexico are expected to stage 10 games each, while the other 60 games, including the quarterfinals…

by Al Campbell

OTTAWA, June 16 (Xinhua) — Vancouver and Toronto will be the Canadian host cities for the 2026 World Cup when the country co-hosts the men’s soccer tournament with the U.S. and Mexico, FIFA announced Thursday.

It will be the first time that matches for the world’s most-watched sporting event have been staged in Canada. Edmonton, the Alberta capital, was passed over by football’s governing body in its bid to host games.

“British Columbia welcomes the world for FIFA World Cup 2026,” said John Horgan, premier of Canada’s western-most province. “We’re not hosting the largest ever World Cup just for kicks. British Columbians will enjoy an economic boost to the tourism and hospitality sectors that will be felt for years to come. We look forward to welcoming the global soccer community.”

The expanded 48-team tournament is being staged in 16 North American cities, including three in Mexico and 11 in the U.S.. It is the first time the tournament has been split into three host countries.

Canada and Mexico are expected to stage 10 games each, while the other 60 games, including the quarterfinals and final, will be played in U.S. cities. FIFA did not say which city would host the final as it depended on the city and the weather.

John Tory, the mayor of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America with a population of 2.9 million, said he was delighted his city had made the grade.

“There is no bigger sports tournament on the planet and it will be an opportunity to welcome the world and showcase all that our city has to offer to a global audience,” he said.

A report to the Toronto city council in March estimated that it would cost the Ontario capital 290 million Canadian dollars (232 million U.S. dollars) if it hosted five games. In British Columbia, it is estimated it will cost up to 260 million Canadian dollars (208 million U.S. dollars) to pay for the planning, staging and hosting of the games.

In Toronto, the 30,000-seat BMO Stadium will have to be upgraded to accommodate 45,000 people with temporary stands built in addition to other facilities such as dressing rooms and media facilities.

In Vancouver, BC Place Stadium will have to install natural grass, a requirement of FIFA. The 54,000-seat stadium opened in 1984 and underwent a 514 million Canadian dollars (411 million U.S. dollars) refurbishment in 2011 when a retractable roof was added.

Melanie Mark, the British Columbia minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport, said that in addition to hosting group games there would also be a minimum of five pre-tournament games, providing a huge boost for the province’s post-pandemic economy.

In 2018, B.C. had originally declined the opportunity to host World Cup games when premier Horgan said he didn’t want to write FIFA “a blank check” to host matches. When Montreal dropped out of the running to host games earlier this year, FIFA invited Vancouver to reconsider being a host city.

“We know that tax dollars are precious. We know that there are affordability challenges, and when you make investments like this, we have also done the math that there’s also going to be a return on that investment and we’re looking at a billion dollars coming to B.C.,” said Mark.

With Canada’s diverse immigrant population, football has always been popular in the country of 38.3 million people at both the amateur and professional levels. The Canadian national women’s team, currently ranked sixth in the world, is the reigning Olympic champions.

The Canadian national men’s team is 38th in the FIFA world rankings. The team qualified for this year’s World Cup in Qatar after topping the table in the CONCACAF final round of World Cup qualifiers with a record of eight wins, four draws and two losses.

In 1986, in its only other World Cup appearance, the Canadian men did not score a goal in their three qualifying games.

The Mexican cities hosting the 2026 World Cup games include Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. In the U.S., Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City (to be played in nearby New Jersey), Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle will be host cities. Enditem

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