With another Canadian Men’s World Cup cycle dead and buried, there is still much to be optimistic about for our boys in red. The Gold Cup is returning this summer!
Choose your analogy.
Joking aside, this is an event that Canada should take very seriously. Not only is it our continental championship, it is an opportunity to cap tie players, form squad cohesion, and move up the rankings. Rankings that are used to form World Cup qualifying groups. These groups are usually where hopes are dashed.
Canada often seems to find itself in some sort of “Group of Death” even before The Hex begins. Tournaments like the Gold Cup can help avoid this. Canada has nobody to blame but themselves when this happens.
But all signs point to qualifying not being a problem after 2022. Canada has a legitimate shot at hosting the big jamboree in 2026. There have been rumblings that Canada could either be the sole host, or more likely, a joint host with the United States, and possibly Mexico. There are many reasons to believe this rumour. Here is why I think it will come to fruition.
Track Record of Hosting FIFA Events:
The CSA has done a fantastic job at hosting tournaments of yore – FIFA Women’s World Cup, U-20 Men’s World Cup, and U-20 Women’s World Cup. Each of these events has been a success both on and off the pitch, and FIFA has noticed this. The next logical step in the growth phase would be the pinnacle of soccer. Our country’s infrastructure could handle a co-host venture at worst, especially major urban centres like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. We would not have the same legacy issues as Brasil or South Africa.
North America’s “Turn” On The Cycle:
Since the last World Cup in North America ( USA ‘94 ), the party has been to Europe twice, Asia once, Africa once, and South America once. Before 2026, it will have been to Europe and Asia again. If FIFA is to back up their talk, and continue to follow the rotation policy, it will be North America’s turn to host the grand ball. Unless Australia gets brave and decides to ask FIFA out for a date, this is a done deal for North America. Sorry Australia, it’s not like you would have a shot anyway.
Expanded World Cup:
With FIFA’s recent announcement that they are expanding the tournament to 48 teams, this almost automatically guarantees that future events be co-hosted, or at least have more joint bids. The more nations that participate, the greater the stress on a country’s infrastructure – debt accumulation, transport, stadiums etc. Numerous hosting nations could ease that burden. Thus, granting multiple automatic qualifying berths would not be as contentious an issue with the expanded format. This sets up perfectly, considering the natural relationship we have with our neighbours to the south.
Big Vic’s ascension to the throne of CONCACAF could not have come at a better time. He has been reputable in both Canadian and world soccer circles for ages. With the outward cleansing of FIFA and CONCACAF of its undesirable characters, he can be seen as the opposite – an honest and hard-working servant. He will be committed to building bridges within the sport’s hierarchy, and doing what is right for it. You can also guarantee that he will be Canada’s greatest advocate, championing our cause and speaking to whomever needs to be spoken to.
The bidding process is not far off. Canada has some work to do and cannot solely rely on good will. Whether it be as sole hosts, or (most likely) as joint hosts with the United States, this is our time to shine.
It sure looks like the stars have finally lined up.
By William Jamieson