After Montreal last week pulled itself out of the three cities in Canada to host games during the FIFA World Cup 2026, Vancouver has returned to express its interest to host games. This consideration came roughly three years after pulling out of hosting games for the biggest football event in the world.
This interest from Vancouver has come as a surprise for the authorities who were already in talks for Montreal’s replacement after it backed out due to financial reasons last week. This resulted in an opportunity for the province of British Colombia (BC) to become part of the World Cup, which is being co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
BC Premier John Horgan, in a press conference, stated that he has had some ‘preliminary discussions’ with the representatives of FIFA in Canada, with the province now considering the prospect of hosting games in the city of Vancouver at BC Place.
He further added, “Certainly, with Montreal stepping away, it does create a real opportunity for Vancouver. You’ll remember when the original proposal was put before our government; we were just barely elected at that point. We were looking at the fiscal situation. We were making determinations about how best to go forward in a minority situation. When we looked at the FIFA presentation, it was a little rich for our blood, and we chose to give it a pass. But now, fast forward to 2021, we’re in a completely different situation.”
One of the major reasons for this sudden turn of events is speculated to be the desire to enlarge the local tourism in the province after the devastating Covid-19 pandemic during the last year and a half. The thought process is to attract tourists and generate greater revenue to help the province in future. Vancouver’s history of hosting large-scale sports events also includes the 2010 Winter Olympics.
BC Place, the venue chosen to host the games is a multipurpose stadium, which is home to Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps and Canadian Football League’s BC Lions. The 55,000 capacity stadium has previously hosted the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final. But according to FIFA’s norms, a new grass field will have to be installed for the venue to get the green light.
Presently, Toronto and Edmonton are the only Canadian host cities for the FIFA World Cup in 2026. One more spot is up for grabs and it’ll be interesting to see if Vancouver can make it. The final 16 host cities are now expected to be officially chosen by FIFA in the first six months of 2022, with site visits scheduled from September until November.