Vancouver is now in the running to join 15 other cities when Canada, Mexico and the United States host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
World Football governing body FIFA announced Thursday that the Canadian city’s candidacy will now be accepted following the complete submission of necessary documentation and a successful inspection site visit by FIFA officials earlier this year. Last month Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart agreed to commit CDN $5 million (USD $3.95 million) toward the bid that could lead to as many as five World Cup matches held in BC Place Stadium. The actual cost of hosting the events could reach as high as CDN $260 million (USD $206 million).
Vancouver joins Canadian cities Toronto and Edmonton also vying to host some of the 10 matches that have been promised to the northernmost nation in the joint bid. Last year Montreal dropped out of the running due to cost concerns leaving the door open for another city to participate in the event.
Mexico will also host 10 matches among Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.
The remaining 60 matches will be shared among 10 U.S. cities to be selected from Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, Baltimore, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nashville, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Cincinnati, Miami, Orlando and Houston.
Final site selections were to be made by FIFA last year but the process was delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Though no date has been set, it is expected that the final list will be announced later this year.
Vancouver asked to be included on the original list of proposed cities when FIFA chose the “United” North American joint bid over Morocco in 2018, but the city dropped out at the last minute when the British Columbia government became concerned with FIFA’s demands regarding the province-owned stadium.
B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Melanie Mark told CBC “We’re in a different time.”
“The world was frozen for two years because of the global health pandemic and tourism, arts, culture and sport, people couldn’t gather, they couldn’t celebrate.
“This is an opportunity to support our economy and support jobs, and that’s the main objective.”
Mark said the potential economic impact of host World Cup events could reach CDN $1 billion (USD $793 million) through to 2029.
BC Place hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Vancouver is now exploring a bid to host the 2030 edition of the Games.
World Cup interest among Canadians skyrocketed last month when the men’s team qualified to compete in the 2022 World Cup, set to be held in Qatar in November and December this year. It will be the first appearance by a Canadian team since 1986.
The 2026 tournament will be expanded to 48 teams, from the current 32, and host nations will automatically qualify to compete.