Canada Corner: Could Canada host a future World Cup?

Canada Corner: Could Canada host a future World Cup?

Canadian Soccer

Canada Corner: Could Canada host a future World Cup?

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By KURTIS LARSON

FIFA World Cup final, July 16, 2038, Victoria, British Columbia, CA.

England vs. Ivory Coast (say what you will…).

Full of cameras flashing and spectators chanting, the newly constructed 89,000-seat Tim Horton's Arena sits jammed packed on the Pacific shoreline. Awaiting two flags, six referees (future goal-line refs included) and both teams to emerge from the tunnel, the world's most anticipated sports spectacle is about to get underway. 

After each and every World Cup the conversation quickly turns to the likelihood of certain nations hosting the world's greatest sporting event. With the front-runners being England in 2018 and the United States in 2022, the conversation immediately switches to what countries are in line for the tournament in 2026 and beyond. 

Over the past week, an assortment of Canadian news outlets posed the above question to the Canadian Soccer Association's general secretary, Peter Montopoli. 

"We would have to wait our turn," Montopoli said. "There is a long way to go."

Montopoli went on to say that the state of California alone is better suited to host the tournament at the moment. 

Fair enough. 

But what are the prospects, the probability and the likelihood that Canada could host or co-host this event in the distant future?

The first obstacle would be infrastructure. FIFA mandates that a host nation meet stadium guidelines that include having 40,000-seat stadiums for all group matches and 80,000-seat stadiums for the opening and final matches. 

At the moment, Canada has just four stadiums that seat above 40,000, with multiple stadiums falling just short of the mark. 

Herein lies the first obvious problem — Canada has no reason, other than a potential World Cup bid, to build stadiums that hold more than 50,000 spectators. 

Take South Africa for instance. After Sunday's World Cup final, the newly constructed World Cup stadiums will immediately turn into multi-purpose venues that will house not only soccer but rugby, cricket and more. Other than an occasional outdoor NHL game and the highly coveted (but greatly overshadowed by the NFL's Super Bowl) Grey Cup, the country will have no use for a large stadium following the World Cup should it host it. 

The conversation switches to whether or not a co-hosting situation with the United States is viable. 

The quick and easy answer to that is that the United States would never need help hosting the event because according to the CSA, "they could hold this tournament" in a single state. 

Talk like that makes you wonder if the CSA would even consider approaching the U.S. Soccer Federation and posing the question.

Which brings us to the third area of concern. 

Will the Canadian soccer team ever justify to FIFA taking a spot away from another, more worthy soccer nation?

Because the host country automatically qualifies for tournament, does Canada's No. 63 world ranking even justify them earning automatic qualification among the elite?

For many the answer is no. Although current hosts South Africa came into this summer's tournament ranked 83rd in the world, they competed evenly by registering a win over France and a 1-1 draw in the tournament's opening match with Mexico. 

At this moment, I can't see Canada having similar success as a host nation against the world's best. 

It's clear that recent conversations have exposed what some Canadian soccer commentators and critics don't want to hear. Canada will never be a logical or plausible location for a men's FIFA World Cup. The CSA, federal and local governments would never be able to justify constructing one-time, national sports venues of that magnitude.  

Canada's only hope would be if the U.S. agreed to throw them a bone and send a game or two up to Montreal or B.C. Place in 2022. 

Don't count on it. 

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QUICK NOTE

Dutch (Canadian) winger Jonathan de Guzman's contract with Feyenoord is coming to an end. The Canadian-born winger is reportedly being linked to Newcastle of the Barclays Premier League. De Guzman, who has appeared at the youth level for the Netherlands, is eligible to play for Canada but continues to hold out for a spot on the Dutch senior national team.

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Do you think Canada will ever host a World Cup?

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