Horgan says BC is "working on" FIFA World Cup bid to host games in 2026

Feb 8 2022, 1:25 am

Vancouver is still in the running to be a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup according to BC Premier John Horgan.

In an interview with Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal on CHEK television today, Horgan said he had some “breaking news” to share with regards to the FIFA bid. Horgan said that Melanie Mark, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport, is “working on” a bid to host games in Vancouver in 2026.

“This is some breaking news, she’s working on the FIFA bid for games in 2026,” said Horgan. “This is, again, not a done deal, it’s still not a blank cheque.”

Horgan has flip-flopped on his position concerning Vancouver hosting the World Cup since 2018. The BC government voluntarily pulled out of the running in 2018, before a final decision was required, with Horgan citing that FIFA demanded the province essentially write a “blank cheque.”

When Montreal pulled out of the running last year, leaving Toronto and Edmonton as the only Canadian cities left in the bid process, Horgan said that it created a “real opportunity for Vancouver.”

“FIFA will not be looking for the sea and the sky in their ask from host cities,” Horgan said last July.

The premier indicated on Monday that he is now in favour of Vancouver hosting matches, in part because of the pandemic’s impact on the tourism industry and because FIFA has seemingly softened its demands.

“This is not 2018,” Horgan added in his interview on Donnie and Dhali. “We’re going into a period where we need to use our spectacular facilities. BC Place has been empty, virtually, for the past two years. It’s a great facility, we spent a ton of money as taxpayers to build in the first place, to update it, and fix the roof.”

It’s hard not to draw a line between Canada Soccer avoiding Vancouver lately and BC pulling out of the World Cup in 2018.

BC Place is the best soccer stadium in the country, given the size and age of the stadium, which was newly renovated in 2011. But Vancouver has been snubbed by Canada Soccer so far in FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with home matches going to Toronto, Edmonton, and Hamilton. Canada has one more match remaining in qualifying, against Jamaica, on March 27. A location for that match has yet to be determined, but certainly, it would be a good sign if Canada Soccer decides to play it in Vancouver.

“We want to see concerts, we want to see that building used for taxpayers, but also as a magnet for tourism,” Horgan added. “We’re in discussions with Canadian Soccer, we’ll see how that goes. But my concerns in 2018 were, ‘Did we have the capacity?’ Now in 2022, ‘How many people can we get?'”

Horgan is now enthusiastic in his support.

“To have an elite Canadian soccer team playing games in Vancouver in 2026 would be great. Good for soccer, good for Vancouver, good for BC.”

Canada and Mexico will host 10 games each in 2026, with the remaining 40 matches being played in the United States.

The premier claimed that in 2018, BC would have been bidding for “maybe” two games in Vancouver in exchange for FIFA taking control of facilities for three months. Now, Vancouver could host “maybe five games,” said Horgan.

“They have softened that position. They still have a lot of requirements but so do we.”

Horgan also said that Vancouver’s proximity to Seattle, a city bidding for matches in the United States, also works in their favour.

“I’m confident that we’ll get an agreement that is way better than the one that was before us in 2018.”

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