Canada’s co-hosting World Cup 2026: Why you should care

by | Mar 4, 2024 | Sports

The 2023-24 NHL season is in full swing, and although the scrape of ice skates is the sound most heard in this country by those who live here, there’s something else Canadian sports fans should be thinking about. The proximity of a tournament of continental proportions can (and should) give visibility to a sport that, if it weren’t for the recently retired Canadian soccer legend Christine Sinclair, would not be so well remembered here.

Well, for those who have not heard, the 2026 World Cup will be jointly hosted by Canada, the USA and Mexico. Taking place Between June 11 and July 19, the men’s tournament will be the first organized by three nations and the first North American World Cup since 1994. Co-hosting of the FIFA World Cup was banned after the 2002 edition was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, so the joint hosting is another reason to be excited.

Canada is the only country debuting as host (or, in this case, co-host) in the men’s tournament. And in August 2022, FIFA President Gianni Infantino confirmed that six CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football Associations) teams will qualify for the World Cup. Canada, Mexico and the USA automatically qualify as hosts, and three additional spots will be awarded through qualification. 

Did you know?

  • This will be Canada’s third-ever men’s World Cup appearance after participating in the 1986 and 2022 editions. However, they’re yet to record a victory at the sport’s highest-profile event. 
  • As of this edition, the 2026 FIFA World Cup will feature 48 teams, an increase of 16 compared to the previous seven tournaments.
  • The total number of games played will increase from 64 to 104, and the number of games played by teams reaching the finals will increase from seven to eight.
  • Canada men’s national team will play their opener – and inaugural World Cup match on home soil – in Toronto on June 12. Their other two group-stage games will be held on June 18 and 24 at BC Place, home of Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Here is a guide to 2026 World Cup stadiums & locations.

Well, as said at the beginning, it is the Canadian women’s football team that usually attracts national attention to the sport. But it’s worth highlighting that the men’s World Cup is the most-watched sporting event worldwide; proof of this was the last competition in 2022, which reached more than five billion viewers across different media. As one can see, host countries’ exposure to events like this is enormous – and the projection for Canada is the same, mainly because it will host the event in the summer.

Due to the mix of countries and people from all over the world, the cultural value involved is priceless, despite the high cost that needs to be invested for everything to be up to  FIFA standards. For a nation like Canada, the opportunity to host could be another step towards becoming a true powerhouse in men’s and women’s soccer. Keep reading to learn why you should support Le Rouge, as the Canadian team is known. 

  • The Canadian Soccer Association officially sanctioned the Canadian Premier League in May 2017, and they’ve played an annual season since 2019. The league focuses on improving national football and sports talent in Canada. There are several rules to ensure that focus, including minimum quotas of Canadian players in team rosters and starting lineups, requirements for national under-21 players and a Canadian university draft. Having a national league to follow closely is an additional incentive to get excited about the World Cup.
  • There are three Canadian teams in Major League Soccer–the highest level of professional soccer in the United States: Toronto FC, Vancouver, and Montreal. Many players from this league will be playing in the next cup, so it’s worth following them and rooting for the home team.
  • Two of the most significant Canadian soccer stars will attend: Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David. Davies is 22 years old and left wing-back for German giants Bayern Munich. According to Inside Sport, he is the most well-known and accomplished Canadian soccer player ever. According to the same website, David is the only player who comes close to Alphonso Davies in terms of reputation and potential, who was also born in 2000. He is a center forward for the French team Lille. If you don’t have a Canadian team to cheer for, at least you can find some Canucks in the mix to support!

As one last fact, a survey in December 2023 in Canada revealed that soccer was the fifth most popular sport in the country in terms of interest, ahead of sports such as tennis and golf. So catch up with the rest of Canada, and switch your attention from the rinks to the lush green lawns…at least until 2026.

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