It's to be hoped someone quietly nips this in the bud before too much money is spent on the bid, because it's such a bad idea. Let me count the ways....
- Canada has a mixed track record when it comes to hosting events of this size. Winter Olympics in Calgary and Vancouver went well enough, although both almost fell victims to unpredictable weather. However, the summer Olympiad held in Montreal all the way back in 1976 was an unmitigated financial disaster, leaving local taxpayers on the hook for decades of debt repayments.
- The conniptions Toronto is currently going through in order to host the Pan Am Games this summer should be a clear warning of the difficulties of staging the much bigger World Cup -- an event that makes the Pan Am Games look like a village fall fair. Although the facilities for the Games should be ready on time, there have been significant cost overruns. And it's dollars to donuts that the city will be reduced to chaos during the event itself: the newly-announced transportation plan for the period of the Games basically amounts to closing a bunch of roads and asking residents, pretty please with a cherry on top, to stay home.
- The CSA's respect for the sport is shown by its insistence on staging this summer's Women's World Cup on artificial turf, a decision that prompted the threat of a lawsuit from some of the top players -- supported, it should be said, by many male players who may have feared a precedent was being set. FIFA had no choice but to go along with the CSA because no other country was interested in hosting the event. The fact that the CSA is now airily saying that the playing surface for a men's tournament could be determined after the bid had been won is cause for serious concern -- and should automatically disqualify the bid.
- Lastly, the CSA asserts that finding eight venues is not likely to be a problem. That's correct, as long as you have an unlimited budget. The only stadium in Canada that's anywhere close to being large enough for a World Cup final is the Stade Olympique in Montreal, which is now rarely used and is in some disrepair. It will be fifty years old by the time of the 2026 World Cup. The biggest stadium in Toronto, the Rogers Centre, would accommodate maybe 50,000 for soccer, and because it's a dome, it has zero potential for expansion. The city's purpose-built soccer stadium at BMO Field is currently being expanded -- to hold about 30,000. There are a few stadia across the country that might be adaptable for World Cup use (Vancouver and Edmonton come to mind) but it's likely that more than half of the venues would have to be purpose built, at huge expense and with little certainty that they would be widely used once the circus left town.
For now, talk of a bid for the World Cup is muted. If the CSA starts to get serious, expect a major taxpayer revolt against the prospect of having to underwrite such a venture -- which would hardly be good for the future development of the sport in Canada.