Vancouver’s ambitions of hosting 2026 FIFA World Cup matches at BC Place Stadium could be dashed by an apparent decision from the BC NDP government to miss a key internal deadline set by the United Bid Committee.
BC Liberal MLA Jas Johal lambasted the governing party at the legislature today during question period as the provincial government, according to Johal, failed to meet a deadline for BC to submit its commitments and proposal.
The deadline for this step of the internal candidature process was last night, says Johal, who added that this amounts to a withdrawal of Vancouver’s contention in the bid process.
This follows an announcement by the federal government this morning that it would commit up to $5 million towards Canada’s role in hosting the tournament if the bid is successful.
Vancouver is vying against three other Canadian cities – Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton – to fill two or three host city positions in the United Bid, which will incorporate 2o to 25 cities from Canada, the United States, and Mexico in its final bid to FIFA.
Canada and Mexico would each see 10 matches each, while the United States will host the lion’s share of the matches.
Within Canada, the clear favourite cities were Vancouver and Toronto, with each city provided with five matches.
Vancouver has, of course, been a major international sports host for the past decade, with BC Place hosting the 2010 Olympic Ceremonies, nine matches for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup including the championship final, an annual stop for World Rugby’s Rugby Sevens tournament, and several qualifying matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Hosting the FIFA World Cup would align with one of the province’s key tourism generation strategies of pursuing the hosting duties of major international sports events.
For its role as a host of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Vancouver saw an economic impact of $82.9 million and British Columbia as a whole experienced an uptick of $118.8 million.
The 54,000-seat BC Place, which is owned by the provincial government, is also widely considered the country’s flagship stadium after receiving a major retrofit and new roof in 2011.
FIFA will decide on the winning bid in June 2018. The only competitor against the joint North American bid is Morocco.
If the North American bid is successful, the future organizing committee will announce a list of between 12 and 16 official host cities in 2021.
Representatives with the BC NDP, BC Liberals, and Soccer Canada were unavailable for an immediate comment.