Canadian soccer bosses reveal plans to host 2026 World Cup

Updated: January 25, 2014
Photo: Neil Davidson/ Canadian Press

Photo: Neil Davidson/ Canadian Press

The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) this week launched a four-year strategic action plan, which they hope will ultimately lead to a successful bid to host the 2026 Fifa World Cup tournament.

CONCACAF, the governing body of both North and Central America and the Caribbean, has not hosted the World Cup since 1994, when Brazil triumphed in the United States, and saw an unsuccessful bid, again from the US, for the 2022 tournament that was controversially awarded to Qatar.

Yet Canada believe they are more than capable of taking the four-week tournament back to North America in 12 years time, pointing to the fact that they will have hosted every Fifa event bar the world futsal, beach and club championships and Confederations Cup by next summer, when they play host the Women’s World Cup.

It is the success of the women’s tournament next summer that could prove key to a realistic, and ultimately successful, bid for the men’s tournament in 2026 with CSA President, Victor Montagliani, saying: “The process has to start now.

“We’re the only G-8 nation to not host the World Cup,” Montagliani added. “We’ve hosted almost every other event. I think it’s time for Canada to step up to the plate.”

Montagliani went on to reveal that the 2026 World Cup bid is part of the  CSA’s new strategy to increase popularity in the game, with football now Canada’s fastest growing participation sport – especially among females.

The Canadian women’s national team won bronze in the 2010 Olympic Women’s Football tournament, enjoying huge publicity in the country at that time, however the men’s side have sunk to 111th in the Fifa Rankings and have not won a single match since being thumped 8-1 by Honduras in October 2012.

Any World Cup bid would have to come on the back of a revival in fortunes for the men’s side, however with Canada currently in the midst of a 14-game winless streak, it is difficult to see where inspiration will come from. Worst still, they haven’t scored for 10 of the games.

In the national team’s defence, coach Benito Floro has looked to young talent since taking over the squad last summer, partly laying the foundations for an upturn in Canada’s fortunes.

Montagliani believes there are some similarities with the successful bid for the 1994 World Cup by the US in this respect, saying:  “When they [the United States] bid for the World Cup, I wouldn’t say the game was in a healthy state in the U.S. both professionally and domestically.

“Their leadership group decided to put a bid together and I think that was a bit of a lightning rod for people to come together.”

The US game benefited hugely after the World Cup and Major League Soccer is now as popular as ever, with the US national side also riding high in 14th spot in the Fifa Rankings.

Football in Canada is much less popular than it is in the US however, and Montagliani admits there is much work to be done should they wish to launch a viable bid to host the 2026 tournament.

“There are a lot of requirements from a hosting perspective for a men’s World Cup,” Montopoli acknowledged. “It’s massive.”

Montagliani also revealed that talks had been held with the US over the possibility of launching a joint North American bid, although officials from the US Soccer Federation have played down those suggestions.

With FIFA yet to issue its 2026 hosting guidelines, Montopoli also said talk of a co-hosted bid “might be a little premature but it certainly is possible.”

Although, a bid for the 2026 World Cup is the ultimate goal for Canada, the CSA’s 2014-18 Strategic Plan, entitled “Leading a Soccer Nation”, covers much wider targets that are divided into four main goals, which have 27 sub-points.

The four major target are:

  • Invest in technical leadership.
  • Ensure consistent world-class performances by our national teams.
  • Govern the game in Canada professionally.
  • Encourage and oversee the grown of the game.

The CSA blueprint, which was 18 months in the making, also calls for the establishment of a national player database and some much-needed, technical development across the Canadian game.

The overall planning for the blueprint looked at other Canadian sports, including hockey, figure skating, volleyball and golf, as well as overseas football associations such as those in the US, England, Mexico and the Netherlands.

Nick Bontis, Director and Chair of the CSA Strategic Committee explained these measures were taken as ‘there was no point in re-inventing the wheel.’

The CSA previously prepared a bid to host the 1986 FIFA World Cup, which was originally handed to Colombia before being moved to Mexico, while the country has hosted the Fifa U-17 World Cup in 1987, the U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2002 and the U-20 World Cup in 2007.

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