[2026 WORLD CUP] Canada has not qualified for the World Cup finals since its only appearance in 1986, but soccer is definitely on the upswing north of the border with three MLS clubs (Toronto FC, Vancouver and Montreal) plus two teams in the NASL (Ottawa joins FC Edmonton this season). Canada will host the 2014 Under-20 Women's World Cup and 2015 Women's World Cup, and it has set its sights on the big prize: 2026 World Cup, or the "the granddaddy of them all," as CSA president Victor Montagliani called it.
"The process has to start now," said Montagliani on Thursday of a Canada 2026 bid.
The 2015 Women's World Cup, the first FIFA women's tournament with 24 teams, is expected to draw huge
crowds -- the goal is ticket sales of 1.5 million -- at six Canadian venues. It will be the first coast-to-coast event Canada has ever held -- across all five time zones, including Moncton, in New
Brunswick, which is on Atlantic time zone. (Toronto will not be a host city because it is hosting the Pan-American Games in 2015.)
Montagliani said he was "astonished" with the results of
a CSA survey that 92 percent of all Canadians were aware of the tournament, and 1.5 million tickets were expected to be sold for the event. (The landmark 1999 Women's World Cup that took the USA by
storm attracted only 1.2 million fans for what was albeit a smaller tournament.)
"We're the only G-8 nation to not host the World Cup," Montagliani said on Thursday. "We've hosted almost
every other event. I think it's time for Canada to step up to the plate."
There has been no timeline for the awarding of the 2026 World Cup -- or even guidelines on what FIFA will be
looking for from bidders -- but the United States is expected to be the favorite -- if it bids.
In October 2013, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati
said in London that the bidding process would need to be very different to what it has been and the rules would need to be clearer and tighter if the USA to was to bid.
During the 2013
Gold Cup, Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb said North America must host the 2026 World Cup, insisting that the backing of the next FIFA president would be one of
conditions of Concacaf support in the 2015 election. Webb said the United States was best suited to
host the tournament, insisting that the U.S. market needed to grow. (Much of Concacaf's funding comes from the Gold Cup, which the USA has hosted in whole or part since its launch in 1991.)
FIFA had abandoned the rotation system by which Concacaf would have been in line for the 2022 World Cup that controversially went to Qatar. If FIFA's current bidding rules are maintained, European
and Asian nations would be ineligible to bid since the 2018 and 2022 tournaments will go to Russia and Qatar. That would put the Concacaf entrant -- there would likely be an agreement within Concacaf
on which country to put forward -- in competition against only countries from Africa, South America and Oceania, a much easier competition.
To throw in another wrinkle, though, FIFA has
proposed having all 209 association members -- not just the 25 voting members of the executive committee -- choose the World Cup host.