Tory: Chance to co-host World Cup a ‘good in­vest­ment’

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - NATIONAL NEWS - NICOLE THOMP­SON

TORONTO — The chance to co-host the 2026 World Cup is an op­por­tu­nity to put Canada on the world stage, politi­cians said Wed­nes­day af­ter soc­cer’s in­ter­na­tional gov­ern­ing body voted in favour of a joint North Amer­i­can bid for the event.

Toronto, Mon­treal and Ed­mon­ton are all can­di­dates cities for games at the tour­na­ment that will be hosted by Canada, the U.S. and Mex­ico.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity to bring the world to­gether and high­light how well things work be­tween Canada, Mex­ico and the United States,” Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said of the bid ap­proved by FIFA, which came amid com­plex trade ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the coun­tries.

Toronto’s mayor noted that Canada had lit­tle chance of host­ing the in­ter­na­tional soc­cer tour­na­ment on its own, but will now reap the ben­e­fits re­sult­ing from its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the joint bid.

“It re­ally is a once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion op­por­tu­nity,” John Tory said. “This is a good in­vest­ment for tourism, a good in­vest­ment for sports, a good in­vest­ment to put Toronto on the map.”

FIFA will select up to 16 host cities from the 23 can­di­dates pro­posed in the North Amer­i­can bid. Cana­dian of­fi­cials have said they will push to have games played in all three of their host cities.

Tory said co-host­ing would cost Toronto an es­ti­mated $30 mil­lion, which would be split be­tween the three lev­els of gov­ern­ment, but he did not pro­vide an es­ti­mated dollar value for the ex­pected re­turn on in­vest­ment.

A spokesman for On­tario’s in­com­ing premier said Doug Ford is look­ing for­ward to the prospect of host­ing games in the province, but did not re­spond to ques­tions about fund­ing.

Fed­eral Min­is­ter of Sport Kirsty Dun­can touted the ben­e­fits of host­ing the games.

“This op­por­tu­nity will al­low the gov­ern­ment of Canada to con­tinue play­ing a cru­cial role in the devel­op­ment and suc­cess of ath­letes at an in­ter­na­tional level,” she said in a state­ment.

“More­over, this event will po­ten­tially pro­vide Cana­dian ath­letes the op­por­tu­nity to play on home soil, al­low Canada’s soc­cer com­mu­ni­ties to grow and in­spire our next gen­er­a­tion of ath­letes.”

Dun­can noted that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has pledged up to $5 mil­lion to sup­port plan­ning around the event.

Mean­while, Mon­treal Mayor Va­lerie Plante said she is thrilled the joint bid was suc­cess­ful.

“It’s ex­cel­lent news,” she told the city’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day. “I’m very en­thu­si­as­tic and soc­cer fans, and sports fans in gen­eral and ev­ery­day cit­i­zens are very favourable to this an­nounce­ment. They see great po­ten­tial.”

In Ed­mon­ton, Mayor Don Ive­son’s ex­cite­ment was tem­pered with re­al­ism. He noted more has to hap­pen be­fore the Alberta cap­i­tal makes the cut of host cities by 2020. “Over­all we scored solidly in the bid and we know we have the best sta­dium in the coun­try to host soc­cer,” he said.

CHRISTO­PHER KATSAROV/ THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Toronto mayor John Tory dis­cusses the suc­cess­ful joint North Amer­i­can bid by Canada, the U.S. and Mex­ico to host the 2026 World Cup at a press con­fer­ence in Toronto on Wed­nes­day.

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