Provincial tourism minister Lisa Beare says she is happy for Canadian soccer fans with the announcement of the FIFA World Cup coming to this country for the first time in 2026.

But Beare is defending the province’s decision to keep Vancouver off the list of potential host cities of the world’s biggest single-sport competition because of unknown costs to B.C. taxpayers.

“Our government has a responsibility to ensure that B.C. taxpayers are not on the hook for hidden costs,” Beare said in a released statement on the successful joint North American bid to host the 2026 games between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

“The FIFA bid agreement contained clauses, which government felt left taxpayers at unacceptable risk of additional costs. We tried very hard to get assurances that addressed our concerns. Unfortunately, those assurances were not forthcoming.”

In March, Beare said the province did not agree with the North American bid committee on the terms of hosting games in Vancouver.

Beare said the committee declined to negotiate the NDP government’s concerns of “shouldering potentially huge and unpredictable costs.?

The same worries led to Chicago and Minneapolis also withdrawing from being potential host cities.

The World Cup, which was first organized in 1930, has never been played in Canada.

10 games are forecast to be held in Canada in 2026 with Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal as potential host cities.

Parksville-Qualicum Liberal MLA and opposition tourism critic Michelle Stilwell went to Twitter to voice her disappointment in B.C. missing out on the event.

The tweet began with “Talk about fumbling the ball!”

The North American bid, that defeated Morocco in a FIFA Congress vote in Moscow Wednesday, promised a record $11 billion profit from the event.

Morocco’s bid was offering a $5 billion profit.

 

Andy Neal