Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dreaming of 2026: FIFA President Says Canada on Its Way to World Cup Bid

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dreaming of 2026: FIFA President Says Canada on Its Way to World Cup Bid

Article excerpt

FIFA president teases Canadian World Cup

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TORONTO - Sepp Blatter appeared at peace.

Perhaps it was lingering memories of a chaotic Brazilian World Cup that have FIFA's president so happy to be in Canada. Maybe it was a modestly attended press conference where he faced no questions about bidding corruption, 2018 World Cup host Russia's alleged military involvement in Ukraine or labour rights in 2022 host Qatar.

Whatever the reason, Canada suits Blatter just fine. So fine in fact that Blatter didn't have to be asked about a possible World Cup in Canada -- he brought it up on his own.

"Let's go to see if you can bring the famous FIFA's World Cup we just played in Brazil to your country," he said Monday. "I'm sure that this country will be as calm as it is now, and tell me one country in the world actually that is very calm. And here, I feel home."

That's good news for Canadian soccer ahead of the Under-20 Women's World Cup, which begins Tuesday and runs through Aug. 24 in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton and Moncton, N.B.

Canada opens play Tuesday against Ghana in Toronto. The 16-team event is a precursor to next year's Women's World Cup, which will move from 16 teams to 24.

Blatter called the tournaments a necessary step to a successful bid by the Canadian Soccer Association for the men's tournament.

"It's time. It's a project and if you're going to have a project like the FIFA World Cup, it takes some time," he said. "You have had the courage and it was necessary to (CSA president Victor Montagliani) to have the courage to ask, to organize FIFA's Women's World Cup with 24 teams. It will be the first time."

The CSA has said it plans to enter a formal bid for the 2026 World Cup.

"We're the only G8 country that hasn't hosted a World Cup ...," said Montagliani. "I think we've sort of started to shed our humbleness a little bit ... I think that's our next step of evolution in terms of the growth of the game, and I think something that not only bodes well for our country but also the continent and will help our neighbours as well. …

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