November 23 – Global governing body FIFA have wrapped up their inspection of candidate host cities for the 2026 World Cup with a final stop in Toronto, Canada. Next year, Zurich will select the final host cities for the tournament, the first global finals to be played in a 48-team format.
Canada will host 10 games during the final with Edmonton and Toronto being the only two host candidate cities after Montreal pulled out, citing the high costs and taxpayer scepticism to stage World Cup matches.
At a news conference, Victor Montagliani, CONCACAF president, FIFA vice-president and head of the FIFA delegation called the Toronto pitch “very thorough and excellent.”
“I thought their presentation exemplified not only the nuts and bolts of what’s required … but also showed in terms of what I call the software, not just the hardware — the diversity of the city, what football has meant to the city historically. What football is in this city,” said Montagliani.
Montagliani and his inspectors visited BMO Field, the stadium home to both Major League Soccer franchise Toronto FC. At the lakefront, BMO Field served as a venue during the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. If selected for the 2026 tournament, the stadium, which holds 30,000 seats following a renovation between 2014 and 2016, would be expanded with temporary sitting to bring it up to FIFA’s requirements for minimum capacity.
Previously, the FIFA inspection team visited Edmonton where they watched Canada take a huge leap towards a maiden World Cup qualification with a 2-1 victory against Mexico at the Commonwealth Stadium. “I commented at the time that it was very chilly but a very warm atmosphere,” said FIFA’s chief tournaments and events officer Colin Smith. “To have the passion of the crowd in these conditions was simply fantastic. And that shows the support that there is for soccer, football as I call it, in Canada.”
In total, the FIFA delegation has visited 22 cities and that field of candidate host cities and venues will be whittled down to select the final host cities and stadiums in the first half of 2022. FIFA also inspected Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington, D.C. in the U.S.; Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey in Mexico; and Edmonton in Canada.
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