It will likely be debated until 2026 and well after, but the decision of the B.C. NDP to not join the North American bid to host the World Cup in that year has once again ignited a storm of controversy.
That’s because the inevitable has been realized and FIFA approved the combined application of the United States, Canada and Mexico (also known as the United bid) over the lone contender, Morocco.
Vancouver (along with Chicago and Minneapolis) pulled out of the United effort after premier John Horgan declared that he wouldn’t “hand over a blank cheque to FIFA.”
The organization has been accused of numerous counts of fraud in the past and while one has to admire Horgan for his resolve in ostensibly saying no to burdening taxpayers with unknown costs, it’ll be hard for Vancouver to sit on the sidelines when 2026 comes around.
This city has shown the ability to put on world class events in the past, and it’s exclusion while Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton get to host a combined 10 games will be hard for the city’s soccer fans to swallow.
Vancouver Whitecaps star and Edmonton-raised Alphonso Davies was on hand in Russia to deliver a speech to FIFA World Congress before the vote that certainly couldn’t have hurt the United bid’s case.
Davies almost definitely won’t be on the Whitecaps in 2026, as the 17-year-old figures to have gone on to greener and more lucrative pastures by then.
But Canada will be there, and Davies will likely be playing under the Maple Leaf banner.
There are no doubt a number of reasons Horgan and the NDP rejected the proposal, and surely many of them, including FIFA’s often dubious operating techniques, are well-explained.
And there will be scores of Vancouverites who will be watching Canada compete for the World Cup on TV (the host cities always get a guaranteed spot in the tournament).
They’ll reminisce about how they used to watch Davies play in the city. And maybe they’ll conclude that they’re glad that their government didn’t bend to FIFA’s will.