Canada, Mexico and the United States will be hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup. While that means Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal may all be host cities for the men’s soccer showcase, Vancouver will be watching from the sidelines.
Vancouver dropped out of the World Cup bid in March. Chicago and Minneapolis also withdrew, citing similar worries.
WATCH: North America — minus Vancouver — gets 2026 FIFA World Cup
B.C. balked at a “step-in” clause as a part of that bid package, described by Premier John Horgan as a “blank cheque” that would allow FIFA to unilaterally make changes to the bid at any time.
Tourism Minister Lisa Beare said that raised concerns the province would have to sign on without knowing how much taxpayers would actually be paying, and that the bid committee had rejected requests to try to arrive at a dollar figure.
LISTEN: Three Canadian cities to host World Cup games
In a statement Wednesday, Beare said she congratulates the United bid on its success.
“Our government has a responsibility to ensure that B.C. taxpayers are not on the hook for hidden costs,” she said.
“The Province carefully assesses all sport events for value to taxpayers. The FIFA bid agreement contained clauses, which government felt left taxpayers at unacceptable risk of additional costs. We tried very hard to get assurances that addressed our concerns. Unfortunately, those assurances were not forthcoming.”
“I am happy for Canadian soccer fans that some of the World Cup matches are coming to Canadian host cities.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan also weighed in on the controversy on Wednesday.
“We weren’t prepared to write a blank cheque, we’re still not prepared to write a blank cheque for a soccer tournament that would not guarantee a specific number of games, would not guarantee the duration of the closing of B.C. Place, and would not give us a final dollar figure,” he said.
WATCH: Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davies tells FIFA World Congress of his dream ahead of 2026 World Cup vote
At the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday, FIFA’s member associations voted 134 to 65, with one no-vote, in favour of the joint North American bid by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to host the 2026 World Cup over that of Morocco.
“Football today is the only victor,” said U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro.
Mexico has twice hosted the World Cup, in 1970 and 1986. The U.S. hosted in 1994.
The 2026 World Cup has 48 teams playing a total of 80 games: 60 planned for cities across the U.S., and 10 games in potentially three different cities in both Canada and Mexico.
However, the exact breakdown won’t be known until 2020, when the current list of 23 potential host cities is narrowed down to 16.
Because it is co-hosting with two other countries, it is not yet clear if Canada will get the traditional automatic host-country qualification for the 2026 tournament. Traditionally, host countries are automatically in the tournament, which would ensure that the Canadian Men’s soccer team would be playing in the World Cup.
WATCh: Vancouver soccer great and Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi talks to Paul Haysom about North America’s successful bid to host the 2026 World Cup:
The last time they did that was in 1986 — in Mexico. The team didn’t make it past the group stage.
Speaking on the Jon McComb Show Wednesday morning, Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi said he is pleased the bid went to North America, despite Vancouver not being a part of the action.
“The fact that we have an opportunity to be a part of a World Cup that’s still eight years away, benefit from the build-up to 2026, the sport is in a growth spurt right now at the professional and registration level. There’s more kids that play soccer than any other sport in Canada,” he said.
WATCH: Vancouver soccer great and Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi talks to Paul Haysom about North America’s successful bid to host the 2026 World Cup:
LISTEN: Three Canadian cities will host 10 World Cup games in 2026 in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto. Vancouver will not be part of the tournament, after it opted out, citing financial uncertainty from FIFA. Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi joins Jon McComb.
— With files from Simon Little, CKNW, and The Canadian Press