Perhaps it was lingering memories of a chaotic World Cup in Brazil that have left 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.
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 at BMO Field. 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.
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.”
None of which actually guarantees Canada will host a World Cup.
Canada won the bidding for both women’s tournaments in 2011 after its lone opposition, Zimbabwe, pulled out of consideration. Canada previously hosted the men’s Under-17 World Cup in 1987 and the men’s Under-20 World Cup in 2007, as well as the first women’s under-20 tournament in 2002.
There’s also the matter of a significant disparity between the women’s and men’s teams.
The women’s side, led by star Christine Sinclair of London, Ont., is ranked seventh in the world and recently won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. The men are 118th in the world, have only a 1986 World Cup appearance to their credit and are early in a rebuilding process. But Blatter was quick to reminisce about Canada’s soccer history. He recalled the decision made in Montreal by the FIFA Congress in 1976 to expel South Africa for its then pro-apartheid stance. He also downplayed Canada’s geographic disadvantage as a possible World Cup host.
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