Edmonton to find out later this year on FIFA World Cup 2026 hosting bid
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds fly over at the start of the 106th Grey Cup between the Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Sunday, November 25, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
EDMONTON -- Edmonton will find out late this year if the city has been selected as a host venue for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Soccer's international governing body said in a statement Tuesday that it will make the announcement in "the last quarter" of 2021.
"Bearing in mind the constantly changing circumstances with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, FIFA and the host associations are aiming to start the venue visits in the candidate host cities at the beginning of July," the statement reads.
The tournament is expected to feature an expanded field of 48 teams and with games spread across the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The three Canadian venues under consideration are Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, Toronto's BMO Field and Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
"Our Edmonton team continues to plan and prepare for visits from a team of FIFA officials who are scheduled to visit all candidate host cities for 2026 once the current pandemic situation allows global travel," a city spokesperson told CTV News. "FIFA is planning to begin venue visits in the third quarter of 2021, however this depends on the status of the pandemic."
EDMONTONIANS STRONGLY SUPPORT BID: SURVEY
The city launched a survey in August to measure Edmontonians feelings on hosting the tournament.
Survey results show 77 per cent of people in the Edmonton region support the bid, the city said, up from 74 per cent in 2018.
The World Cup, a "generational opportunity," would have an economic impact of $474 million for Edmonton, the spokesperson said, and promote the city and province to the rest of the world.
"If successful in the bid, Edmonton would host a 34-day free FIFA Fan Fest, bringing together a celebration of sport and culture for citizens and visitors to enjoy," the city added.
Vancouver withdrew as a potential host city in March 2018, citing concerns over cost and financial transparency.
FIFA will select up to 16 of the 23 venues that have been put forward in the joint bid.
It's not yet clear how the matches will be distributed between the host cities and countries.
FIFA said it would join host associations in virtual meetings to discuss stadium infrastructure in the 23 candidate host cities from the end of February 2021.
The global body will then launch targeted discussions with candidate host cities from April this year.