Premier John Horgan has given soccer fans a glimmer of hope that there might be FIFA World Cup games played in British Columbia when the world-class tournament comes to North America in 2026.
During an interview on Donnie and Dhali The Team on CHEK TV, Premier Horgan said that Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture, and Sport, was currently working on the bid to get games scheduled in Vancouver.
British Columbia initially bowed out of hosting any FIFA games during the 2026 World Cup back in 2018, but had a reinvigorated interest in 2021 after Montreal dropped out of being a host city.
Horgan suggested that although bidding on FIFA games is in the works, it is not a done deal, but the Premier sounded hopeful and emphasized the new level of importance for Vancouver becoming a host city while talking with show hosts Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal on Monday.
“This is not 2018, we’re going into a period where we need to use our spectacular facilities,” Horgan said during the interview, outlining that BC Place — the province’s largest stadium — has virtually sat empty for the past two years since the start of the pandemic.
“We want to see that building used for the taxpayers but also as a magnet for tourism,” he added.
Horgan said that the B.C. government is currently in conversations with Canada Soccer about bringing games to British Columbia, saying “we’ll see how that goes.”
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“My concerns in 2018 was did we have the capacity, and now in 2022, it’s how many people can we get,” Horgan stated.
The Premier also pointed out the recent success of the Canadian Men’s National Team that has been inching closer and closer to clinching the country’s first FIFA World Cup berth since 1986.
“To have an elite Canadian soccer team playing games in Vancouver in 2026 would be great. Good for soccer, good for Vancouver, good for B.C.,” highlighted Horgan.
British Columbia turned down the opportunity to host back in 2018 because the tournament organizers were requiring the use of Vancouver facilities over the span of three months and was only promising a total of two games.
Horgan said that FIFA’s duration and demand on city facilities would not only impact local residents but also teams like the BC Lions and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Now in 2022, Horgan says FIFA World Cup organizers have softened on some of their demands and requirements and now the promise has gone from only two games to possibly three, four or five.
Horgan showed optimism by saying that other host cities have started to drop out and the synergy with having games in Seattle and other West Coast cities works in Vancouver’s favour and appeals to organizers.
“I’m confident that we’ll get an agreement way better than the one that was in front of us back in 2018,” said Horgan.
With the province’s tourism sector having been crippled as a result of COVID-19, Horgan told Taylor and Dhaliwal, “We need to remind the world at how fantastic B.C. is and having the largest sporting event on the planet take place partly in Vancouver will help us do that.”
Outside of discussing the FIFA World Cup, Horgan touched on updating capacity limits at Vancouver Canucks games and the potential for Vancouver to pursue a 2030 Winter Olympic bid.
The full interview with Premier Horgan on Donnie and Dhali can be viewed below.