Earlier this year, the Canadian men's national soccer team made history by qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. This World Cup will be happening in Qatar in November 2022.
And Canada is already a lock for the next World Cup, too. Because they're going to host it! (Hosts automatically qualify for the tournament.)
Back in 2018, it was announced that Canada, along with the United States and Mexico, would be hosting the 2026 World Cup. Last week, those plans got clearer than ever when the host cities were announced for the big event. These are cities where the actual games will be played.
And if you're in Toronto or Vancouver, we've got great news: World Cup matches are going to be played in your city!
Who was chosen
Cities bid for the right to host World Cup matches. And the competition between cities was intense.
After all, Mexico is a country with a long, successful soccer tradition and has already hosted the tournament twice, in 1970 and 1986. And the United States hosted it in 1994.
In the end, sixteen cities from across the three countries were chosen. Eleven were from the United States: New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Boston.
Three were from Mexico: Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara.
And the two Canadian cities rounded out the list.
How many matches each?
The exact split of matches is still be determined, but most of the matches will be played in the United States. There will be 60 matches played there, while Mexico and Canada will each host ten matches. This means that Toronto and Vancouver should get five matches each. That's a lot of top notch international soccer!
(All matches from the quarterfinal stage onward will be hosted in the United States.)
It's a big honour on the world's biggest stage, one that sadly Edmonton will miss out on. They join Washington/Baltimore, Orlando, Cincinnati, Nashville, and Denver as cities that bid on the chance to host, but missed out.
Though this is sad news for these cities, on the bright side, they at least won't need to spend a ton of money renovating their stadiums! Because ...
Renovations are needed
Getting to host a World Cup match comes with strings attached. For one, there are minimum capacities for a World Cup stadium—it must hold at least 40,000 people. Vancouver's BC Place holds over 50,000 so it's fine, but Toronto's BMO Field only holds 28,000. This stadium will undergo a huge expansion.
Then there is the playing surface. It must be grass. BMO Field uses something called hybrid grass, which is 95 percent natural grass mixed with synthetic fibres. But BC Place is all artificial turf. Even though it is almost brand new, it will also need to be replaced with grass for the tournament to happen.
Forward to the future
Overall, it's been a huge last few years for Canadian men's soccer. They've gone from not seeing the World Cup for over 30 years to qualifying for one and hosting the next!
It's a big achievement for the soccer program, which has lived in the shadow of an excellent women's team for many years now (Olympic gold, whoop!). Moments like this is proof that Canada is getting closer and closer to being known as a place where they play more than just hockey!