March 28, 2023
Ontario is yet to decide whether it will help fund Toronto's bid for the 2026 World Cup

Ontario is yet to decide whether it will help fund Toronto’s bid for the 2026 World Cup

The Ontario government says it has not yet decided whether it will foot part of the bill Toronto is asking to host the men’s FIFA World Cup in 2026.

“I’m a big football fan. I love soccer, but let’s take a look. We’re going to look at the finances and hopefully find an answer sooner or later,” Premier Doug Ford said during an independent news conference in Bradford on Wednesday morning.

“I understand that the clock is ticking.”

Toronto was selected in June as one of 16 host cities for the 2026 expanded tournament, co-hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico.

City officials initially estimated the cost of hosting multiple World Cup games at $290 million. However, last summer that number rose to $300 million due to rising inflation rates, employees said.

The city hopes the federal and provincial governments will provide two-thirds of the total, or about $184 million.

Ford said Toronto’s participation in the quadrennial football tournament was raised during his recent meeting with Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“We haven’t made a decision. I don’t think the federal government has made a decision,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s comments came on the same day as the FIFA World Cup arrived in Toronto as part of the final leg of a 51-country world tour.

Tory and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie were among the dignitaries at Pearson Airport to accept the trophy.

Also present were Stephanie Labbé, former Canada women’s national team goaltender and current general manager of women’s soccer at Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club, and Dwayne De Rosario, former Canada men’s national team midfielder.

Speaking to reporters at the trophy ceremony, Tory said the other two tiers of government “expressed what I would call due diligence”.

“The province is doing what I’m asking them to do, just like the city is doing the same, and the federal government, that means we’re making sure that when the budgets are put together to host the World Cup, those funds are going to be well spent,” he said .

Tory said hosting the world’s biggest men’s football tournament will result in “gigantic” results for the city, province and country. City officials previously estimated the Games will have a $307 million GDP impact, including the creation of 3,300 jobs.

The mayor added that the money will be spent on hiring staff, including security and stadium upgrades. He also noted that being a host city will have reputational benefits.

“There will be a huge return. The hotel rooms will be full. The restaurants will be full. People are going to spend money here – thousands upon thousands of visitors from all over the world,” Tory said.

“I think you have to see the positive. But that doesn’t stop us all from doing the due diligence we need to do to ensure public money invested in staging these World Cup matches is well spent.”

Canada is expected to host 10 games, which will be split between the city and Vancouver. It has yet to be announced how many games will be played at BMO Field.

Meanwhile, the 14.5-inch trophy, which weighs just over 13 pounds, was later taken to BMO Field at Exhibition Place for a sold-out “fan activation” event that included a VIP reception followed by a fireside chat with soccer icons.

The FIFA World Cup Tour, hosted by Coca-Cola and taking the trophy to all 32 countries that have qualified for this year’s tournament, comes just weeks before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar on November 20th .

– with files by Chris Fox

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