Will the World Cup revolutionize soccer culture in Canada?

Bachir Miloudi / Sputnik Photography

FIFA reveals new details about the World Cup soccer games that will be hosted in two Canadian cities, Toronto and Vancouver. 

After the FIFA World Cup held in Qatar back in November 2022, there has been anticipation for the next World Cup, which will take place in all three North American countries. Canada will be hosting the World Cup in 2026 for the first time. The games in Canada will be split between Toronto at the BMO Field and the B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver. 

“So not only can we run a very successful World Cup in a couple of years, but also it will set the city up for future success when it comes to conventions and conferences and just tourism in general,” said Vancouver mayor Ken Smith in an interview with CBC.  

Canadians are commonly known for being greater fans of other sports, such as hockey and basketball, while the soccer audience in Canada stays smaller, although the sport is growing in the country and has increasing participation in Canada. The rest of the world is crazy about this sport, which was recorded to have 4 billion fans in 2020, according to statisticsanddata.org.  

There could be shift in the amount of attention that Canadians give to soccer once the World Cup arrives in Canada for the first time in 2026. Since Canadian culture focuses more on other sports, it is seemingly less likely for people to get into soccer in Canada. Yet, it is possible that World Cup 2026 could be revolutionary for soccer culture in Canada and increase the soccer audience and fandom in the country. 

“I’m just excited that teams are coming to Canada. I think this will be a good opportunity for Canada to come together and support the teams they want,” said Niyati Pancholi, a second-year digital media and journalism student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford.  

“I think it’s amazing. I want to see Jude,” Pancholi said, referring to the English soccer player, Jude Bellingham, who was signed to Real Madrid last June.  

With a month of publicizing the World Cup in North America, including 13 games in Canada, there is potential for soccer culture in Canada to expand. With more exposure to soccer or “football”, increasing Canadians will have the opportunity to give this sport a chance. Canadians who have not considered watching soccer before will get to see the exciting and more combative techniques in soccer from around the world, such as in European soccer, which is often more aggressive than the soccer played in Canada. 

FIFA World Cup tickets typically sell fast, despite their high prices. Information on tickets will be available soon on the FIFA website. 

This article was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 7 on Thursday, March 7.

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