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Canada part of winning World Cup bid for 2026 men’s soccer showcase

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The World Cup is coming to Canada.

FIFA’s member associations voted 134 to 65, with one no-vote, Wednesday in favour of the joint North American bid by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to host the 2026 World Cup over that of Morocco at the FIFA Congress in Moscow.

“Football today is the only victor,” said U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro.

Morocco, which has now lost five bid campaigns, was classy in defeat — congratulating the North American winners.

Mexico has twice hosted the World Cup, in 1970 and 1986. The U.S. hosted in 1994.

Canada failed in its lone previous bid — to host the 1986 tournament after Colombia pulled out as host. That remains the only World Cup the Canadian men have ever qualified for.

The hosting decision likely opens the door to Canada finally returning to the men’s world stage — a widely expected scenario as co-host that has yet to be officially confirmed. But with the tournament expanding from 32 to 48 teams in 2026, tripling the hosts would not cause as many ripples.

Officials have already talked of staging three games, one in each of the three countries, to kick off the tournament.

Steven Reed, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, called the FIFA Congress decision “an extraordinary honour and privilege.”

CONCACAF, whose president — Canadian Victor Montagliani — played a key role in the bid, called the vote a “monumental victory” for the confederation that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.  

The current blueprint calls for Canada and Mexico to stage 10 games each with the U.S. hosting 60. But that is not carved in stone.

Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal are Canadian candidate host cities for the men’s soccer showcase, expanded to 48 teams for the 2026 tournament. 

FIFA will select up to 16 host cities from the 23 candidates proposed in the North American bid.

The mayors of two of Canada’s host cities celebrated the early-morning announcement on Twitter. Both Valerie Plante of Montreal and John Tory of Toronto retweeted a video of the bid team reacting to the news, with Tory adding, “”We won! The 2026 World Cup is coming to Canada, the U.S. & Mexico!”

Vancouver will watch from the sidelines after the B.C. government, citing concerns over the possible costs of being a host city, was unable to come to terms with the bid committee. Chicago and Minneapolis also withdrew, citing similar worries.

FIFA’s hosting selection process was revamped in the wake of recent scandals enveloping the world governing body of soccer.

All of FIFA’s 211 member associations — save the bidding countries — were eligible to take part in the electronic vote. In the past, only members of what was then the FIFA executive committee decided via secret ballot.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino called the new voting procedure a “thorough, transparent” process.

The two rivals bids each got 15 minutes to make one last pitch Wednesday, with the North American bid going first.

Canada turned to teenage Vancouver Whitecaps star Alphonso Davies to open its presentation.

Davies’ parents fled their home in Monrovia, Liberia, to escape a civil war. They ended up at a refugee camp in Ghana, where Davies was born.

“It was a hard life. But when I was five years old, a country called Canada welcomed us in,” he told the Congress. “And the boys on the football team made me feel at home.

“Today I’m 17 years old and I play for the (Canadian) men’s national team. And I’m a proud Canadian citizen. And my dream is to some day compete in the World Cup, maybe even in my home town of Edmonton.

“The people of North America have always welcomed me. If given the opportunity, I know they will welcome you,” he added.

Reed called Canada a “growing football nation that proudly welcomes people from all over the world.” 

A film promised natural grass on every pitch at “iconic” and “state-of-the art” stadiums already built, a sly dig at Morocco, whose stadium infrastructure is far from complete.

“We expect record profits for FIFA of (US)$11 billion,” said Cordeiro, perhaps hitting the key button. 

In its film presentation, Morocco billed itself “a country with a heart beating for football, a country where football is more than a sport.”

It promised a profit of $5 billion for FIFA.

Fouzi Lekjaa, president of the Moroccan Royal Football Federation, noted Africa has only ever hosted the World Cup once.

“Now we’re asking for a second chance to show our abilities,” he said through an interpreter.

Prior to the vote, Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association and Canada’s bid director, called the vote a “watershed moment” and a “game-changer.”

On paper, the two bids are worlds apart.

In rating the risk assessment of both bidders, with grades of low-, medium- and high-risk, FIFA’s own bid evaluation report gave Morocco three high-risk grades (stadiums, accommodation, and accommodation and transport), 10 medium and seven low.

The North American bid got 17 low-risk assessments and three medium (organizing cost, legal-government support, and human rights and labour standards).

The evaluation report also offers a “technical scoring” of the two bids, with Morocco getting 274.9 out of 500, compared to the United bid’s 402.8 total.

The United bid plans to use 16 stadiums from a list of 23 — 17 of which are deemed just fine the way they are, with six needing renovation. Morocco planned to use 14 stadiums, nine of which had yet to be built with the other five due for renovation.

 

 

 

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press


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Woman and her dog lost for 72 hours in B.C. woods are found safe

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INVERMERE, B.C. — A 52-year-old woman and her dog are both safe and unharmed after wandering lost for 72 hours in the thick woods in southeastern B.C.

RCMP Sgt. Chris Newel says Louise Baxter hopped off a rescue helicopter Wednesday, hugged her husband and was talking and laughing with her rescuers.

Baxter went out for a hike with friends in the Jumbo Pass area on Sunday, but she disappeared after taking her leashed dog out for what she said would be a short walk.

Newel says Baxter appears to have become disoriented shortly after leaving her friends and then heading down the mountain, moving “west when she probably should have been heading east.”

The dog, a golden poodle named Maverick, was with her the whole time and Newel says the animal is also in good health. 

At the height of the search, there were three helicopters, four search dogs, a drone and 35 search and rescue volunteers looking for the woman in the difficult, mountainous terrain.

Newel, who was the incident commander for the search, said Baxter saw the search helicopters and tried to flag them down, but no one saw her.

“But if anybody’s every been in a helicopter, trying spot a person in forested area is extremely difficult and a lot harder than you would think,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “I can’t imagine the emotion that would have gone through her seeing these helicopters and not be able to signal them in some sort of way.”

Baxter is an avid hiker, Newel said, adding the general rule of thumb for those who get lost in the woods is to stay put. Baxter did stay in one place for a while but proceeded down the mountain because she thought help wasn’t coming, he said.

“But she was working further and further out from the primary search area.”

He said she found water along the way and ate berries, but didn’t have anything else to eat.

“I couldn’t believe when she walked off that helicopter and practically ran to her husband,” Newel added.

 

The Canadian Press


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Greens won’t run candidate in Burnaby South as ‘leader’s courtesy’ to Singh: May

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VICTORIA — The Green party will not run a candidate against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in the riding of Burnaby South.

Green Leader Elizabeth May says the decision is an extension of a “leader’s courtesy,” a long-standing Canadian parliamentary tradition that facilitates a newly elected party leader’s entry to the House of Commons in an unopposed byelection.

She says in a statement the Greens believe it is right to step aside to allow the leader of “an important part of the political spectrum” to serve in Parliament.

Singh announced his candidacy for the federal riding after New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart indicated he was stepping aside to run for mayor of Vancouver.

The Liberal and Conservative parties have not announced candidates in the riding, but the Liberals have said they will contest the byelection.

May received the leader’s courtesy in 2008 when then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion chose not to run a candidate against her in Central Nova. She extended the same gesture to Dion.

In 2002, the Liberals and Conservatives stepped aside for Stephen Harper when he ran in a byelection held shortly after he became leader of the Canadian Alliance.

No date has been set for a byelection.

Singh sat in Ontario’s legislature and served as the provincial NDP’s deputy leader before he replaced Tom Mulcair as the federal leader.

The Canadian Press


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