The World Cup is coming to Canada
Canada, the United States and Mexico may currently be at each other’s throats over trade, but here’s hoping that soccer can help smooth over those differences.
The joint North American bid by the three countries was chosen by FIFA member associations to host the 2026 World Cup Wednesday. And shortly after the winning bid was announced, the coach of the Canadian men’s national soccer team was already promising his team will qualify eight years from now.
“I’m going to guarantee you we are, whether we’re given a berth or not, we’ll find a way to make this happen,” John Herdman told BNN Bloomberg in an interview.
Herdman added that South Korea and Japan, the last joint countries to co-host the World Cup in 2002, both played in the tournament.
“It’s an absolute certainty and if it’s not, we’ll qualify. We’ll find a way. We’re not missing out on this, people,” Herdman said.
The field of teams competing in the 2026 World Cup will expand from 32 to 48.
While the Canadian men’s team has only competed in the World Cup once – in Mexico in 1986 – Herdman didn’t shy away from pumping up expectations. He said Team Canada is taking a “two-pronged approach,” not only preparing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar but also gearing up for an even bigger finish on its home turf in 2026.
“We’re pushing … to make sure when we turn up in 2026 we’re not there to participate, we’re there to win, to push hard and take expectations to where they’ve never been before,” said Herdman, who rose to fame in Canada as former coach of the national women's team, which climbed in global rankings under his watch.
The field of teams competing in the 2026 tournament will expand to 48.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated the three countries on winning the joint bid, while Canadian Heritage Minister Kirsty Duncan announced the federal government will provide up to $5 million to support the development and planning of the event.
Herdman said that while playing host to the World Cup will cost Canadian taxpayers, the return on investment will be worthwhile.
“A lot of it will be financial, you’ve seen the figures that are projected in the bid in profits,” said Herdman. “You can’t put a price on the excitement, the feeling and the way the country can unite.
“It will be one hell of a legacy left for not only for sport in the country, but specifically soccer.”