British Columbia may be on the sidelines if the North American bid for the 2026 World Cup is successful.
A joint U.S., Canada and Mexico bid for the World Cup was supposed to have been finalized by March 16. However, now it appears the provincial government is having second thoughts.
FIFA will choose between North America and Morocco this June. If the North American bid is successful, it’s expected Canada would host 10 games, likely between two cities. One of those cities could be Vancouver. Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton have also been identified as potential candidates.
On Tuesday, Premier John Horgan said the provincial government is not ready to give the World Cup organizers a blank cheque.
“We have been grappling with proponents who want us to sign a blank cheque, a conditional agreement that could be changed by FIFA but not by us,” Horgan said.
“I have a higher obligation than just being a soccer fan. I have a higher obligation than just wanting to see soccer in Vancouver. I have an obligation to make sure taxpayers aren’t on the hook at the whim of FIFA, I’m just not prepared to sign off on that.”
Also on Tuesday, the federal government announced its support for the bid, but Horgan said they didn’t say anything about the costs of security or other associated costs. The B.C. Liberal opposition said the province has a history of hosting successful international sporting events and it could be missing out.
The federal government is promising up to $5 million in immediate help should the unified bid for the men’s tournament win.
“Two million dollars was the investment for the Women’s World Cup and we generated $118 million. That’s good value for dollar, it’s an ability to expose this province globally and I don’t understand, how at the last minute, the minister can say we’re pulling out,” Jas Johal, B.C. Liberal MLA, said.
With files from The Canadian Press