Vancouver has been added to the list of potential host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, to be staged in Canada, Mexico and the US.

The Canadian city has been officially adopted as a candidate almost six months after a FIFA delegation completed a round of site visits across the three countries. FIFA said an inspection visit has now taken place in Vancouver, while British Columbia and City of Vancouver officials have submitted the required documentation.

FIFA has previously stated that the decision on the 16 successful host cities will be made before the end of June 2022, with this timeline having been pushed back from April 2022 and the end of 2021.

Vancouver becomes the third Canadian city in the running, alongside Toronto and Edmonton, with Montreal having withdrawn from the process in July 2021. Vancouver, Canada’s third largest city by population, initially declined to apply in 2018 to host any 2026 games because of uncertainty about cost and FIFA being able to change the venue agreement without consultation.

Vancouver’s BC Place, which has a capacity of 54,500, served as the main stadium for the 2010 Winter Olympics and hosted the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

Melanie Mark, British Columbia’s Minister of Sport, said: “More than 3.5 billion people watch the World Cup every four years. Becoming a host city and putting the global spotlight on B.C. would, once again, inspire travellers from around the world to come, stay and play. We have a world-class stadium, excellent training facilities and established infrastructure that meets FIFA hosting requirements, all of which make Vancouver particularly well equipped to host the event.

“Destination BC and BC Stats estimated hosting would bring in more than $1bn in new revenue for B.C.’s tourism sector during and in the five years that follow the event, and there are tremendous benefits for individuals and communities alike. We expect this event to be a magnet for visitors to support local business in beautiful British Columbia.”

Meanwhile, FIFA has announced that Amy Hopfinger and Dan Flynn have been appointed to key leadership roles within the local FIFA subsidiary in the US for the FIFA World Cup 2026.

Hopfinger joins as chief strategy and planning officer after serving US Soccer in a variety of roles over 18 years – most recently as vice-president of events. Flynn, who recently concluded 19 years of service at US Soccer as general secretary and CEO, joins as senior executive advisor.

“As we approach the selection of the venues for what will be the largest sporting event in the world, it is great to be able to welcome Amy and Dan to the FIFA team,” said Colin Smith, FIFA’s chief tournaments & events officer. “Their vast experience will provide leadership and continuity for the delivery of a transformative football event – the FIFA World Cup 2026.”

There are a total of 23 candidate cities to host games at the 2026 World Cup, which will be the first to feature 48 teams. The Mexican cities of Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey are all in the running, as are 17 from the US: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.

The tournament will be jointly hosted by 16 cities in the three North American countries. Some 60 matches, including the quarterfinals, semi-finals, and the final, will be hosted by the US while Canada and Mexico will each host 10 matches.

Image: Brayden Law on Unsplash