Canada is going to bid on the 2026 World Cup. Or investigate a bid. Whatever, the point is, we can now dream of a World Cup in the Great White North filled with sub-par beer, overrated maple syrup and some truly fantastic people.
"We’ve already started our preliminary discussions with our FIFA partners and with CONCACAF," Canada Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani told reporters at a press conference.
"The bid would not be in until 2018-ish, but the process has to start now, and the first process is you have to put up your hand and say, ‘This is something that’s required, that we want to do."
As former Olympic hosts and the only G-8 country not to host a World Cup, Canada has a compelling argument and the means to host, but have some serous obstacles to overcome if they want to host the tournament. Namely the vast size of the country, their relatively small population and their lack of stadiums.
If the World Cup goes to Canada, teams will have to fly across an entire continent to go from match to match, an obstacle the United States and Brazil faced as hosts, but the financial potential of those World Cups was enormous. Canada will have to convince FIFA that they have enough potential to make extensive travel worthwhile.
There are just barely enough viable host cities in Canada as well. The country only has four cities with populations over 1,000,000 and a scant nine with populations greater than 500,000. That means cities like Winnipeg and Quebec City will have to host, which is a tough, but not impossible sell. Sure, Qatar is getting away with only a handful of cities and a slew of stadiums in one city, but don't count on Canada to pull a Qatar.
Finally, all nine of those cities are going to need stadiums, and either Toronto or Montreal is going to need two. They are also going to need to be grass fields, which is a problem. The biggest stadium with grass in the country is BMO Field, which is about half the capacity of the minimum 40,000 required to host World Cup matches. They don't have a single one big enough to host the final either. If Canada is to host, it will take a massive stadia undertaking, building or massively renovating 10 venues in nine cities, some of which would come under the cloud of being potential white elephants after the tournament if they cannot be retrofitted to house CFL teams.
But for all the concerns, Canada does have compelling potential. It is a relative newcomer to the world soccer scene and one where soccer could use the boost a World Cup would provide. The diverse population would embrace the tournament and provide a home to the world that reflects the entire globe. They are a modern country that wouldn't need complete infrastructure overhauls and, while the geographic size and population of the nation are concerning, they can be overcome, just like the stadium issues can be with enough time.
And Canada has plenty of time -- they don't have to submit their bid for five years.
Aren't you excited for Celine Dion singing "O Canada" to open the tournament, drinking through the Vancouver waterfront on the way to a match, eating poutine at midnight after a quarterfinal and letting the CN Tower provide the backdrop for a stadium alight with fireworks as the winner's celebrate their World Cup title? A Canada World Cup would be incredible.
Just don't invite Nickelback.