Vancouver joins the fray to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches

The city is looking to boost tourism after being hit hard by the pandemic

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Apr 8, 2022; Vancouver, BC, Canada;  Women's Canadian National defender Vanessa Gilles (14) celebrates her goal against Women's Nigeria National team during the second half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2022; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Women's Canadian National defender Vanessa Gilles (14) celebrates her goal against Women's Nigeria National team during the second half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Football’s governing body FIFA has accepted Vancouver’s bid to be a candidate city to host matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

FIFA has confirmed joint documents from the province of British Columbia and the city of Vancouver, Canada have been received and accepted.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico, and will be the first to feature 48 countries instead of 32.

The United States will host the majority of the matches. Of the 80 total matches, 60 are expected to be played in the U.S., while Canada and Mexico will each host 10.

Mar 5, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN;  Overview of the pitch before the start of the game as the Vancouver Whitecaps host the New York City FC  at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2022; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Overview of the pitch before the start of the game as the Vancouver Whitecaps host the New York City FC at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Four years ago the Premier of British Columbia John Horgan thought the idea of Vancouver being a host city was “too risky and too expensive, and was “not a priority” for his new government.

However after a global pandemic has crippled tourism for the past two years, he recognizes this as an opportunity to bring people back to Vancouver.

“We have in BC Place, a very expensive stadium that had a rebuild that was almost as expensive as the first construction, and it’s been virtually idle for the past two years,” he said.

Vancouver could host between three and five matches if selected. Toronto and Edmonton have also expressed interest in hosting World Cup games.

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the city skyline and the BC place stadium (C), home to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics official ceremonies in Vancouver, British Columbia,  February 9, 2010.     REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA)/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the city skyline and the BC place stadium (C), home to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics official ceremonies in Vancouver, British Columbia, February 9, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA)/File Photo

Melaine Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport told the CBC the potential payoff for the city has forced a change of heart from Horgan.

“We’re in a different time,” she said. “The world was frozen for two years because of the global pandemic. This is an opportunity to support our economy and support jobs, and that’s the main objective.”

Mark said the economic impact from hosting the FIFA World Cup could exceed a billion dollars by the end of the decade.

Vancouver is no stranger to the global stage of course, having hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and the final of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

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