United bid beats out Morocco at FIFA congress
Canada received some big news in the early hours of June 13. At the 68th FIFA congress in Moscow, just a day before the start of the 2018 edition of the tournament, it was decided that Canada, along with the United States and Mexico, would be the hosts of the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
“It’s extraordinary news for soccer in Quebec and in Canada as a whole,” said the Impact’s executive vice-president Richard Legendre. “The Impact made sure to support Montreal and Canada’s bid since the beginning of the process. It gives Canada as a whole a shared objective in terms of player development. Our academies are still young, and we have eight more years to keep developing.”
Montreal was on the shortlist of potential cities fit to host a World Cup, joined by Toronto and Edmonton in Canada. Even prior to the city voicing its intentions, the provincial government had already confirmed the addition of a brand-new roof to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
“There are so many reasons to be excited,” said Rosannie Filato, city councellor for the Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc Extension borough. “It’s an extremely important sport. The FIFA World Cup is the second biggest event after the Olympic games. We have a great ambassador in Patrice Bernier, and we see the extent to which kids in Montreal love soccer.”
Patrice Bernier signed on to be an ambassador for Canada Soccer in its quest to have the United bid approved. The former captain was just seven years old the last time Canada qualified for the tournament, and still remembers the effect it had on him as a kid.
“This type of tournament creates dreams,” said Bernier. “I dreamt while watching it on TV. Imagine knowing as a kid that the World Cup is coming to your backyard and you can have the chance of participating in it. If I’m entering an Academy now knowing this, it would be very motivating.”
With Canada’s main academies still in their young beginnings, and with the new coaching staff put in place for the Canadian men’s national team, it will be interesting to see if Canada can have an Impact on home soil in eight years. If one thing is certain though, it’s an interesting time to be a younger soccer fan in Canada.
“If I could go back in time, or use cryogenics to put myself to sleep, and maybe come in eight years, that would be great,” added Bernier. “This is the World Cup. This is what you dream of as an athlete. It’s the biggest stage, the biggest event. The world stops to watch soccer, and in 2026, all eyes will be on us.”