Montreal expected to host World Cup games in 2026
Published Wednesday, June 13, 2018 1:25PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 13, 2018 8:44PM EDT
Montreal will host several games for the 2026 World Cup tournament, but before the games happen the Olympic Stadium will have to undergo repairs and renovations.
FIFA selected the joint bid from North America to host the month-long tournament in eight years, with 134 member associations choosing Canada, USA, and Mexico over the bid from Morocco.
While Mexico has hosted the beautiful game's largest tournament in 1970 and 1986, and the U.S. hosted it in 1994, this is the first time any men's World Cup games will be played in Canada.
Canada hosted the Women's World Cup in 2015.
Under the bid 60 of the soccer games will be played across the United States, with ten games in Mexico and ten games in Canada.
Montreal, Edmonton, and Toronto are contenders for the games played in Canada, although it is not yet determined how many games each city will host. FIFA will choose 16 separate cities out of the 23 across North America for the tournament.
The announcement had former Montreal Impact captain Patrice Bernier as excited as a kid in a candy store.
"When it happened I was ecstatic. I felt like I was six, seven years old watching the World Cup for the first time and now I'm just thinking of all the kids in the Montreal Impact Academy. If I was 14, knowing that in eight years the World Cup is there, I'd be working my socks off to become a professional and to join the national team and then hopefully play the World Cup in 2026," said Bernier.
Former mayor Denis Coderre was instrumental in getting Montreal's part of the bid underway, but since his electoral defeat last year Rosannie Filato, on the city of Montreal's executive committee, has been the point person for the city administration.
She believes the city, and the Olympic Stadium, will be ready for the tournament, due in part to financial guarantees from the federal government.
"We needed the assurance that the other levels of government would cover a minimum of one-third of the costs and we got that in writing before officializing our candidacy," said Filato.
Montreal's share of the expenses will be about $69 million.
She also said that Montreal is expecting a flood of tourists to the tournament.
"We know that it's going to bring it about $200 million, over $200 million, to Montrealers," said Filato.
The provincial government set aside $200 to $300 million last year to design and build a new roof for the Olympic Stadium, but FIFA will also require that the floor of the stadium be covered in grass--something that has been done before.