5 facts you should know about Canada's role in the 2026 FIFA World Cup

Jun 13 2018, 11:36 pm

What was once thought of as a dream is now a reality for Canadian soccer fans.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup is coming to our country, albeit in a less than traditional manner.

Canada is sharing the tournament with the United States and Mexico, the first time a World Cup has ever been awarded to three countries. That suits Canada just fine, as we would have been hard-pressed to host the World Cup on our own, particularly as the tournament expands from 32 to 48 teams.

No matter where you live in the country, if you’re a fan of the beautiful game, this is great news. Hosting the World Cup in 1994 did wonders for the sport in the United States, which is something Canada Soccer is hoping for also.

More kids play soccer than hockey in Canada, yet we’ve been woeful in the sport (on the men’s side at least) for over 20 years. The eight-year run-up to the tournament should, if nothing else, provide a boost to the game in this country.

Here are five facts to be aware of about the 2026 tournament:

1. We’re only getting 10 games


Image: Canada Soccer / Flickr

While Canada, the United States and Mexico are sharing the tournament, the countries will not be equal partners.

Of the 80 games that will take place, 60 of them will be played in the US. Canada and Mexico will receive 10 matches each.

2. Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton are not guaranteed matches

bmo field toronto

Image: Canada Soccer / Twitter

After the BC government pulled the plug on Vancouver’s bid for the World Cup due to cost uncertainty, it left Canada with just three cities vying to host matches: Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton.

Just how many of those cities will host games is still uncertain.

Tournament organizers could decide to split games between the three cities, or just focus in on two. Ten games is probably too many for one.

When the tournament was held in Brazil four years ago, no city hosted fewer than four matches.

Stay tuned.

3. Natural grass will be installed


Image: Canada Soccer / Flickr

Both the Olympic Stadium in Montreal and Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, will need to install natural grass in order to host games, as FIFA rules stipulate. Both stadiums currently have artificial turf surfaces, which were allowed for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Toronto’s BMO Field, which did not host Women’s World Cup matches, was converted to a natural grass surface in 2010.

4. Canada’s not guaranteed a berth into the tournament yet

Image: Canada Soccer / Flickr

It’s customary for the host country to earn an automatic berth into the FIFA World Cup, but it should be noted, that hasn’t been guaranteed for 2026 as of yet.

Typically, just one country is gifted a spot, and both Japan and South Korea had auto-berths when they hosted in 2002. But reserving three spots would be unprecedented.

Canada has not made the World Cup since 1986, when the tournament was hosted in Mexico. We haven’t even made it to the final stage of qualifying since 1998.

The USA failed to qualify for this year’s tournament, though they’re usually a shoo-in. Mexico has participated in every World Cup since 1994.

FIFA will decide between awarding all three countries an automatic berth, or none at all.

5. It’s going to be a party

Soccer fans from around the world will be coming to North America in 2026, bringing enthusiasm to each host city. FIFA World Cup fan zones will also be set up, providing a place for people to have fun, regardless of if they have a ticket to a match.

See also
Rob WilliamsRob Williams

+ Offside
+ Soccer