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Canada Corner: Could Canada host a future World Cup?

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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. 



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.


Do you think Canada will ever host a World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I think it’s possible Canada could host a WC, maybe not in 2018, but in 2022, if we co-host with the U.S. The soccer scene is pretty big here in Toronto, since it’s really multicultural, so that really isn’t a problem. I think the distance between cities would be a problem ’cause Canada is so vast. But if we host with the U.S and have Montreal and Toronto included as well, then that would be great. We just need the soccer scene to grow a bit more over here, and have a team to qualify as well. It’s quite possible, we’ll just need a couple stadiums that seat 60+ thousand.

  2. Yeah, because we have so many markets dying for soccer and so many billionaires ready to throw their money behind a team. The only thing stopping them is that Canadian teams have taken their spot. *sarcasm*

  3. Better weed than in the famed redwood counties of Nothern California (Mendicino and Humbolt)? I don’t smoke personally, but everyone here says its the best.

  4. I think Canada certainly could. They’ve successfully hosted an Under-21 World Cup. However, it may be beneficial for them to host a Gold Cup to help bolster their case. I also think it would do wonders for Canadian football, as the 94′ WC did for the U.S.

    As far as I know, being a fabulously successful football nation is not a prerequisite for hosting a Cup, examples in point being the United States, Korea/Japan, and South Africa.

    Just my initial thoughts…I’m sure somebody out there would strongly disagree, as usual.

  5. There are very few non-scary sides in a two-game home-and-home playoff with South America. Most of the quote-unquote “bad” teams play at ridiculous altitudes. The USA might match up decently well with an Ecuador or Bolivia because of the team’s fitness level, but would Costa Rica? Not so clear.

    I hope FIFA does at least change which confederations play each other in the playoffs. Last time it was CONMEBOL-OFC and AFC-CONCACAF. Hopefully next time it will be CONCACAF-OFC and AFC-CONMEBOL.

    As for Europe “deserving more spots,” frankly, I just don’t agree. I’m very unimpressed with what I’ve seen from the second-tier European teams. Most of them do nothing but play turtleball. I don’t know how much you watched the UEFA playoffs, but Hand of Henry aside, it was dreadful, drab, horrible soccer.

  6. The word “condemned” doesn’t mean what you think it means. It just means property was taken over by the government through eminent domain. Often this is because the property is unsafe or blighted, but equally often it’s because the land is just necessary for some project.

  7. I actually think Canada could play interesting games as the host nation– remember, they’ve actually won a Gold Cup and gone deep into some other ones. In short tournaments, they’re competitive with the other second-tier CONCACAF sides (Costa Rica, Honduras, T&T). Their problem is that their federation is generally incompetent and disrespected, to the point that the team falls apart during long qualifying campaigns. In this case, the rot is from the top down.

    Once they get someone competent in charge, they’ll become better quite quickly.

  8. If Canada ever cared to build the stadiums, I think they could easily win a World Cup bid. It’s just whether they want to build them and spend the public dollars on a sport that doesn’t grip the public consciousness.
    However, if it ever got its soccer crap together, this country could easily make the final hex and compete for the 3rd and qualify every turn.

  9. Gold Cup needs to be reworked. rotate regions ex. Pacific, Midwest, Atlantic (CAN+US), Mexico, Central America

  10. Canada doesn’t need the World Cup right away. First, host CONCACAF tounaments regularly, perhaps a Womens World Cup, and other smaller tournaments. This is the way to go. It’s pointless to try to get a World Cup right away. Also, the national team needs to start competing on a higher level. I think Canada can become better, regionally.

  11. I do think Canada could handle the World Cup, sure, but they would never be awarded the WC with the United States sitting there. I could see a joint-host situation, with Vancouver, Toronto, and maybe Montreal hosting some games. Actually, I think that’s a pretty good idea. The two countries share MLS, NHL, MLB, and NBA – why not the Cup?

  12. Ha, no. And no way they give any games to Canada if we get to host the World Cup. There are plenty of American cities that would get first dibs for an American-hosted Cup before we throw anything aside.

  13. There has been, and always will be speculation among Canadian soccer fans whether they can host. Seeing that some media outlets are speculating in Canada, the reasons given are just a few reasons as to why this will never happen. There are PLENTY more…Canada should bid for the Women’s though..they did pack the u20 pretty good.

  14. Seriously. They cut Chicago of all cities of the shortlist for the 2018 bid. If we can’t find a game to put in Chicago, we’re not gonna find one for Vancouver.

  15. That actually could work to CONCACAF’s favor, as Brazil will get the automatic spot, and avoid having to qualify. Therefore, the 4th place CONCACAF side will play the 5th place out of the nine remaining CONMEBOL team, which would be akin the playing the 6th place team overall.

    In the 2010 qualification, this could have been the difference between playing Uruguay or Ecuador. I don’t think Ecuador would be a pushover, but they certainly don’t have Uruguay’s level of talent.

  16. You do realize that, “A stand that only weeks after the U20 World Cup was condemned” means that it is declared unsafe? They don’t teach reading comprehension in Grade 3, eh.

    Look even if they finally build a new venue in Ottawa they’d have to do a major overall on the existing stand as well. At its original capacity, in 1908, it was still 10,000 under FIFA minimum. So you’re looking at adding around 20,000 seats to the current capacity of 26,500, probably new seats, not the current bleacher style. You would also need VIP boxes to seat at minimum 500 VIPs.

    If the Canadian government or the CSA or whoever is serious about getting a World Cup they’d better start printing up a lot of those Fivers with the kids playing hockey on them, because you’re looking at a lot of renovations/new buildings. This also says nothing of the logistics of getting people to, from, and around stadiums such as Frank Clair. In 2007 in was cluster-f trying to even find a place to park in Ottawa, and that was for 26-30,000 people. With another 10-20,000 it might be considered a modern marvel to pull it off.

  17. This is something I’ve thought about before, from an American perspective. I like the idea mentioned at the bottom of the article. Basically, let the US apply as the host, and the only country that gets the auto bid. But then let a couple games be played in Montreal or Toronto. Why is that so difficult? And yes, the bean counters in the US wouldn’t want to share profits like that. But we still don’t have a guarantee of getting the WC at all. So if it helps put our bid over the top by proposing another “emerging soccer market,” then it’s a win/win from my point of view.

  18. You do realise they’re building a new stadium, and that the south stand was demolished because it was declared unsafe?

    The only reason the new stadium hasn’t been started yet is because the politicians are idiots. The location is going to be the same as that one, and it’s not a good spot. We have this baseball stadium, in a great location, that’s being used by amateurs that could have been modified for the CFL and soccer, but noooo…

  19. Honduras is better at the moment, but we were also put into a group of death for Qualifying. Jamaica, Honduras, Mexico and Canada. That’s probably 4 of the top 6 teams in CONCACAF, all in 1 group. Debatable, but still, no CONCACAF minnows in sight.

    The other factor was a terrible coach, a massive (and quite unfortunate) goalkeeping error by Onstad in the first game which led to a 1-1 draw at home to Jamaica. Then against Honduras, we were playing well until Radzinski went off injured. It didn’t help that the entire crowd was pro-Honduras, but hey…

    in other words, we didn’t deserve to be at this world cup, and probably didn’t deserve a spot in the Hex.

  20. Europe deserves more spots. South America shouldn’t have to play in a playoff either.

    Take 1 spot from Africa, give it to South America. Then give that 0.5 back to Africa, so they’d play the 0.5 from CONCACAF.

    Also, combine Oceania and Asia (since they have different rounds of qualifying, New Zealand could get into a later round, either the 3rd or 4th). Not sure they’d deserve 5 spots either. While New Zealand did well, North Korea did not. But then, neither did Honduras.

  21. Fifa has frequently stated they want to go to new areas/markets. This obviously pertains to areas outside of Europe. Mexico hosted it twice because of Colombia’s failure in 86. US could indeed get the World Cup in 2018, but only w/a joint bid with Canada. There are rumors of up to 4 Canadian cities joining NASL/USL, so a promise of a domestic league to Fifa (as US did in 94) could be the caveat to entice Sepp & Co. A promise of an 8 or 9 team Canada league is entirely feasible…of course, once it happens league play in MLS and Canadian league should occur as in Mexico, with 2 halves per year. One half, or 49 percent of the games, could be played with MLS. Lets face it, a Canadian league would tank if all of the play was only amongst themselves.

  22. The temperature in Ottawa goes from -40 in the winter to +40 in the summer.

    Anyone who tells you that Canada has 10 months of winter is either joking, or an idiot.

  23. It’s a very similar situation to the NHL. The US teams don’t make enough money (in hockey, 6 Canadian teams account for 1/3rd the revenue of the 30 teams. In fact, in 08, 18 of the 30 teams had less than 2mil in operating income. 12 of those 18 had operating losses).

    Take out the Canadian revenue, and the NHL would fold. Take it out of the MLS, and you’d have major issues.

  24. FIFA has already said that they have no plans to change the distribution prior to the next World Cup, which is a shame since I think we could do with a spot being docked from Africa or Europe so that North and South America wouldn’t have to stake their World Cup hopes on a super-random 2-game playoff.


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