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FIFA concludes World Cup inspections with visit to Toronto

FIFA, football’s global governing body, has completed its inspection of candidate host cities for the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico.

The host cities for the tournament, which will be the first World Cup to feature 48 teams, are set to be announced in the first or second quarter of 2022. Toronto in Canada yesterday (Monday) became the final city visited by FIFA.

FIFA has carried out three tours of cities across the three countries and has visited Boston, Atlanta, Nashville, Orlando, Washington DC, Baltimore, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Monterrey, San Francisco, Seattle, Edmonton, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Los Angeles and Toronto.

During each stop, the FIFA delegation visited stadiums, training sites and fan festival venues, and held discussions with a variety of city-related stakeholders on key matters such as infrastructure, transport, sustainability and legacy.

Around 16 cities across the US, Canada and Mexico are expected to be selected to host the 80 matches during the World Cup, with the exact number still to be finalised. The bulk of matches will be played in the US, which is set to land at least 10 host city slots.

Victor Montagliani, FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president, visited Toronto to conclude the visits to candidate cities. Montagliani said the visits have “laid the foundations” for the tournament to be delivered successfully across the three countries.

“What we have seen are truly outstanding bids, in light of which we are more certain than ever that 2026 will be a significant milestone in football history,” he said. “We would like to reiterate our appreciation to all the candidate host cities and the three host associations for their tremendous efforts and dedication to this process.”

Colin Smith, FIFA’s chief tournaments and events officer, added: “We are absolutely delighted by the commitment and enthusiasm shown by all the candidate host cities.

“All of them have a vision of how to make the most of the FIFA World Cup experience and see the competition as a unique opportunity to welcome the world and leave a lasting legacy, very much in line with FIFA’s objective of setting the benchmark in the delivery of global sporting events.”

Toronto’s BMO Field could see its capacity temporarily expanded if it is selected as a host venue for the World Cup. The stadium is home to Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC and has a capacity of 30,000, but this could be increased to more than 45,000 for the World Cup.

Speaking yesterday during FIFA’s visit to the city, Toronto Mayor John Tory said that a commitment has been made so that the stadium can comply with FIFA capacity requirements. The capacity of BMO Field has been temporarily increased in the past for events such as the MLS Cup Final.

Toronto is one of two Canadian cities bidding to host World Cup matches, with Edmonton also on the list. Montreal withdrew from the venue selection process in July after the provincial government in Quebec said it would not be able to support the bid due to escalating costs.

John Horgan, the Premier of British Columbia, has said that Vancouver would be interested in hosting matches following Montreal’s withdrawal, but it would appear to be too late in the day for the city to be selected. Smith has said that FIFA is focused on working with the cities on the original candidate list.

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.

Image: paul bica/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size