British Columbia has thrown its hat back in the ring for Vancouver to become a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, after initially backing away from the idea three years ago.

Speaking yesterday (Tuesday), British Columbia Premier John Horgan said Montreal’s decision to exit proceedings has opened the door for Vancouver to potentially return. Montreal last week withdrew from the venue selection process for the 2026 edition of the national team football tournament, which Canada will co-host alongside the US and Mexico.

Montreal was one of three Canadian cities on a longlist of 23 candidates to host matches at the World Cup. Edmonton and Toronto also feature on the list, which is set to be cut to 16 ahead of the tournament.

Montreal’s Olympic Stadium had been put forward as a potential host venue. Its withdrawal came after the provincial government in Quebec said in January that it would not be supporting the city’s bid amid escalating costs.

Horgan yesterday said that British Columbia is prepared to “entertain” the possibility of hosting World Cup games. “Certainly, with Montreal stepping away, it does create a real opportunity for Vancouver,” he added, according to the Canadian Press news agency.

B.C. Place Stadium (pictured) would be the venue for any potential 2026 World Cup games, with the facility having been the main destination for Canada’s staging of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, hosting nine games including the final.

Horgan’s NDP party had just taken power in British Columbia when the initial decision to back out of the ‘United 2026’ World Cup was made. Horgan admitted that the hosting fee quoted then would still be too “rich” for the province, but believes things have changed since then.

He added: “The prospect of inviting the world to Vancouver in 2026 all of a sudden takes on a whole new meaning, not just for those passionate about soccer but those who would want to see an opportunity to reacquaint the world with the splendour of British Columbia and particularly Vancouver.”

The 2026 World Cup will mark the first edition of the tournament to be played with 48 teams instead of the current 32. The United 2026 bid from the US, Canada and Mexico was awarded hosting rights to the tournament back in June 2018 after defeating a rival bid from Morocco.

FIFA plans on running venue visits from September to November, with further details on the selection process to be provided in due course. Following Montreal’s withdrawal, the two remaining Canadian venues on the shortlist are Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium and Toronto’s BMO Field.

The candidate cities in the US are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. In Mexico, the candidate host cities are Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.

The United 2026 blueprint is expected to result in Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games apiece, with the US staging the remaining 60, including all matches from the quarter-finals onwards.

Image: Jeff Hitchcock/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size