Why Toronto and Vancouver will likely be the last Canadian host cities in the running for the 2026 World Cup
All eyes are then on New York.
Four years after the world was first invited to Canada and four years before it actually arrives here, Thursday afternoon in Manhattan, FIFA is set to confirm that Toronto is indeed a FIFA World Cup host city. world 2026.
The world game’s governing body is meeting in New York to confirm the final list of host cities for the 23rd edition of their men’s World Cup, which, for the first time, will be co-hosted by three countries. And while much of the tension surrounds US cities making the cut, it seems there’s still room for debate around Canadian venues. Meanwhile, it all appears to be just an endorsement exercise for the three competing Mexican cities.
The 2026 World Cup will see FIFA expand the world’s biggest sporting event to an even more inflated spectacle, with 50% more teams competing, growing from 32 to 48. Given this scale, the list of host cities will also be the longest of the tournament. story with 16 probable locations.
The four years since United’s 2026 bid saw Morocco win the rights to bring the Men’s World Cup back to North America for the first time since 1994 have been eventful for both hosts and football. FIFA. From a Canadian perspective, the musical chairs of possible venues have gone slow-fast. Throughout, Toronto has been the most blocked candidate.
Despite having the smallest stadium of any potential host city, Toronto remains a must-see. The capacity of BMO Field, home of Toronto FC, is 30,000, but will exceed FIFA’s required minimum of 40,000 once upgrades are completed in time for summer 2026.
The fate of other potential Canadian venues has been less clear since 2018, when Alphonso Davies stood on a stage in Moscow and helped convince FIFA delegates to give United’s bid the green light. Despite being included in the original bid package, Vancouver pulled out in 2018 citing ‘unrealistic expectations’ from FIFA before returning to the fray this year. Having also sounded negative, Montreal finally withdrew last summer in the face of possible cost overruns.
Edmonton had so long seemed stuck alongside Toronto, but one of Jason Kenney’s last acts before the premier of Alberta stepped down as UCP leader was to antagonize FIFA. The Kenney government has inserted conditions into its support, including that Commonwealth Stadium be granted a minimum number of matches. FIFA is not well disposed to requests.
With Edmonton’s bid going from shaky to seemingly dead in the water, Toronto and Vancouver will likely be the last two in contention on Thursday. Both cities have work to do before the world arrives.
The BMO Field expansion has been promised, but TFC owners MLSE have not confirmed whether it will be a temporary or permanent upgrade. With football enjoying a huge moment domestically and Italian superstar Lorenzo Insigne soon to join the TFC, the scope for more sustainable expansion on the south and north sides of the stadium could widen. For Vancouver’s BC Place, the problems are on the surface. The synthetic turf pitch, which caused consternation at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, will have to be replaced with natural pitch.
There will also be other costs. FIFA didn’t get where it did by coming on the cheap. A City of Toronto report suggested the cost of being a host city would be $90 million, but could also be worth $300 million to the local economy.
Canada successfully hosted this Women’s World Cup seven years ago, although Toronto missed it due to the Pan American Games. The country also hosted the U20 Men’s World Cup in 2007.
However, Thursday’s announcement comes at a turbulent time for the national sports federation. Canada Soccer has been embroiled in multiple crises with its men’s team successfully qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Qatar. First Canada Soccer has booked a friendly with Iran which has caused a political storm. Then the players went on strike after unsuccessful talks with the association over bonuses for Qatar, a game that Panama suffered. None of them were probably well received by the FIFA hierarchy.
The team of FIFA venue inspectors of course had more pressing issues. While the Mexican trio of Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey is certain, the race between the American venues has been hotly contested.
The original plan called for three venues per play of Canada and Mexico, with the countries sharing 10 matches each and the remaining 60 matches split among 10 US venues. But with Edmonton falling by the wayside, there could be room for an 11th US host city. New York is a certainty and its MetLife Stadium remains favorite to host the final. Other NFL stadiums in Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston and Philadelphia appear to be planned as well. Which leaves Kansas, Baltimore, Miami, Boston, Denver, Orlando, Cincinnati and Nashville battling for a few spots.
It’s competitive, but it’s the World Cup. Since this is FIFA, there may also be a late surprise. Four years of waiting come to an end around 5 p.m. Thursday. Then four more start. Just like real work.
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