Tuesday’s soccer news starts with FIFA announcing that Montreal is no longer interested in hosting 2026 World Cup games. In a statement, FIFA wrote, “FIFA would like to thank Montreal for its participation and all local stakeholders involved for their efforts. FIFA continues to work closely with the host associations of Canada, Mexico and the United States in this highly competitive selection process involving a variety of very strong and diverse candidates across the three countries.”
Montreal, the second-largest city in Canada, joins the third-largest city Vancouver in opting out of the process. The original bid proposed three Canadian cities hosting games. Mexico also has three slots, expected to be Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. In the United States, Chicago and Minneapolis both passed on the World Cup opportunity.
What this means for Canada may already be clear, with the focus now on Toronto and Edmonton as the host cities in Canada. In their own statement, the Canadian Soccer Association pointed to those two cities. “We thank the City of Montréal for their participation in the bid process and look forward to continuing our collaboration with the respective municipal and provincial governments along with the Government of Canada in support of the selection of Edmonton, Alberta and Toronto, Ontario as host cities for the FIFA World Cup 2026.”
Some reports already have a shift from the 3, 3, 10 plan to 2, 3, 11 with the United States picking up the extra venue. Either way, it’s not what the organizers originally planned for the first North American World Cup.
As the first version of the tournament with 48 teams, the bid proposal’s three, three, ten setup was a way to address the increase in games and include all three confederations. The majority of games going to the United States was a given simply based on existing venues. Major cities option out has complicated that to some extent, even though it’s worth the reminder that some large cities have stadium issues.
Toronto plans to use an expanded BMO Field, but it’s still a 45k capacity stadium in a city where the biggest venue is a domed multi-use facility built in the late 1980s that only holds slightly more. Montreal’s bid was to use Olympic Stadium, opened in 1976 and no longer the permanent home for any professional team.
The US cities now wait for FIFA to make final venue decisions after two rounds of eliminations. There are 17 American cities still in the running, all of them NFL stadiums except for the Rose Bowl and Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. FIFA opted against using the new home of the Rams and Raiders in LA while keeping the site of the 1994 World Cup final in the running.
For FIFA, Montreal’s absence is the loss of a major population center but they still have plenty of options. A World Cup without Chicago, Montreal, and Vancouver remove the 5th, 8th, and 71st biggest cities by population in North America, the 4th, 19th, and 31st by metro area. It leaves the top three by population and metro along with the largest city in each of the three countries.
While some may wonder what happened with Canadian enthusiasm for hosting the World Cup, the reality is that there would always be some metro areas opting for different priorities. Add to that issues emerging from the pandemic and meeting the requirements to host games. As high profile the World Cup is as an event, the 2026 edition adds more than games. It adds extra cities needing to satisfy hosting requirements.
Moving to the soccer news, FourFourTwo’s Richard Jolly explains a center back trend and a potential issue. The Independent’s Miguel Delaney looks at field positions in Italy’s setup. Marca’s Pablo Polo uses Sergio Ramos leaving Real Madrid as an indication of more to come. Soccer America’s Scott French talks to New England Revolution coach Bruce Arena.
Felt great putting the cleats on again 😀 pic.twitter.com/My39mtuKfg
— Jordan Morris (@JmoSmooth13) July 5, 2021
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