Mayor John Tory says Toronto will host “as many games as they will give us” following news that Canada was part of a winning “United Bid” along with Mexico and the United States to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Tory called it a “once in a generation opportunity” to showcase Toronto on the world stage.
“I know the people of Toronto will be supportive of this,” he said from BMO Field Wednesday morning. “And I know that we are capable of putting this on.”
“Toronto stands ready to host as many of these games as deemed appropriate … we’ve got the fans here to make this a success.”
The trio of Canada, Mexico and the United States beat out Morocco to win the right to co-host the tournament, marking the first time that international soccer’s marquee event will touch down on Canadian soil.
The vote was held in Moscow on Wednesday morning.
Tory was already looking forward to the financial boost Toronto could receive, even though the host cities have not yet been named.
“We are also going to see the tourist sector energized, the hotel business and others as we have thousands of people coming to Toronto to be part of these games,” he said.
Mexico previously hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986. The United States staged the tournament in 1994. Canada has never held the competition, but it did host the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Canada’s only appearance at the World Cup came in 1986 when it loss all three of its games and crashed out in the first round.
Historically, the host nation has always automatically qualified for the World Cup — it hasn’t been forced to play games in order to qualify for the tournament.
However, FIFA previously ruled that should the “United Bid” beat out Morocco, the number of host countries to automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup would be decided by another vote by the FIFA council sometime in the future.
The 2026 World Cup will expand to 48 teams from 32, and will feature a new format of 16 round-robin groups of three teams with the top two from each pool advancing to a 32-nation knockout round. The tournament will still take place over 32 days.
The “United Bid” calls for the U.S. to host 60 matches, including all games from the quarter-finals through to the final. Canada and Mexico would each host 10 games.
Three Canadian cities — Edmonton, Montreal, and Toronto — could potentially host matches. The “United Bid’s” organizing committee will now work in conjunction with FIFA to decide which cities will get games, although FIFA makes the final call.
The American candidate cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
The Mexican candidate cities are Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.
In total, 23 cities are part of the “United Bid,” and 16 cities will be selected by FIFA to host games.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off on Thursday, with host Russia taking on Saudi Arabia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar.
John Herdman, coach of Canada’s men’s national soccer team, says co-hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup is a “gift” for this country, and a huge opportunity to grow the game in Canada. Watch below.