Canada's government yesterday announced that it is backing the joint North American bid for the '26 FIFA World Cup in advance of Friday's submission deadline in an "effort to coax the FIFA Congress away from selecting Morocco," according to Kurtis Larson of the TORONTO SUN. Morocco is "making a late charge" to win the bid, and there are growing fears that Morocco is a "threat to play spoiler" to the U.S.-Canada-Mexico bid. UEFA federations "could be tempted to back Morocco’s bid on the grounds that match times will be ideal for viewers across Europe, the region that also brings in a majority of TV revenue" for FIFA. Morocco is also "pitching a much more compact tournament, featuring venues within driving distance compared to the vast distance" between North American venues (TORONTO SUN, 3/14). The CP's Neil Davidson noted the announcement was the "latest in a string of news events designed to show" the joint bid is "on track." Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Edmonton, "identified as potential Canadian candidate cities, have already endorsed the bid." Canadian Minister of Sport Kirsty Duncan said, "It's good for our athletes, it's good for our communities, our economy, our reputation as an international sport leader. We are behind this bid." Duncan said that Ottawa will commit up to C$5M "going forward should the bid win" (CP, 3/13).
NOT ON BOARD? British Columbia Premier John Horgan yesterday said that he is "not willing to write a 'blank cheque' to have Vancouver host" World Cup matches, which may "threaten the city’s involvement" in the bid. Horgan said, “I’d love to see soccer games in B.C. Place. ... But let’s also ensure the costs to taxpayers are not out of control” (VANCOUVER SUN, 3/14).