2026 win ‘a game-changer’ for Canada
The Canadian soccer community, including on the Island, is embracing what is being described as a generational moment for Canadian sport.
Words like “game-changer” and “watershed” are routinely being used after the United Bid of Canada, Mexico and U.S. won the right Wednesday to host the 2026 World Cup.
“I was at the FIFA Congress today in Moscow and it was such an incredible moment when Gianni Infantino made the announcement. It’s a huge step for Canada, an absolutely massive opportunity to take football to the next level in Canada,” said Josh Simpson of Victoria, the former Canadian national team player with 43 caps.
Simpson is among the ownership group bringing a Greater Victoria franchise into the fledgling professional Canadian Premier League in 2019.
“The timing could not be better for the launch of the CPL as the love for the game will only grow as we build toward 2026. These are very exciting times for football in Canada,” added Simpson.
Simpson is in Moscow attending under the FIFA Legends Program: “There are lots of big faces here, and lots of people supporting the CPL, so we are really positive. Today was such a boost for us and the momentum building now for soccer in Canada is really exciting.”
He will get no argument from the ownership group of the Victoria Highlanders of the United Soccer League Premier Development League.
“This changes the face and game of soccer in Canada,” said Mark de Frias, co-owner of the Highlanders.
“It is an unbelievable moment for soccer in Canada and North America. Our community is a little bit taller today, a bit prouder, a bit more excited to play the sport, to engage with the sport, to invest in the sport, to commit the time to coaching and learning and building the sport. This is an absolute gamechanger for soccer and we’ll see the improvement of our soccer community through the coming months and years running up to the 2026 World Cup.”
The only time Canada played in the World Cup was in 1986 with Island players Ian Bridge, Jamie Lowery and George Pakos.
FIFA will vote later on how the host team berths will be allocated among the three nations hosting the 2026 World Cup. It is thought they will be awarded 2.5 berths between them. It represents the best chance to play in the World Cup that Canada has had since 1986.
“World Cup 2026 will shape the dreams and goals of the youth out there today,” said Simpson.