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Toronto mayor says chance to co-host World Cup a 'good investment'

Last Updated Jun 13, 2018 at 1:18 pm EDT

FILE - In this July 8, 2014 file photo, a view of the pitch during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Four years after the World Cup, Brazil's massive corruption probes have cleared only two of the 12 stadiums. Executives of meatpacking company JBS said the reconstruction work at the 62,000-seat venue in Belo Horizonte was used to pay bribes of about $8 million to political campaigns of state Gov. Fernando Pimentel, who has had a shaky time in office due to corruption allegations that he denies. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

TORONTO – The chance to co-host the 2026 World Cup represents a “once in a generation opportunity” for Toronto, the city’s mayor said Wednesday after soccer’s international governing body voted in favour of a joint bid for the event by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

John Tory acknowledged that Canada had little chance of hosting the global soccer tournament on its own, but will now be among those reaping the benefits of the massive event.

“I’m thrilled at the fact that we’re going to get some games,” he told reporters after the North American bid was given the green light.

“I think the people of Toronto, because of the keen interest and love they have for the game of soccer, will be absolutely behind this 100 per cent and understand that this is a good investment for tourism, a good investment for sports, a good investment to put Toronto on the map.”

Tory said $30 million or more will be spent on the event, not including security expenses, but noted that the cost will be shared between governments. He added that he expects investment in the event to generate “substantial” returns, but did not offer a specific estimate.

“It really is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Tory said.

Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton are Canadian candidate host cities for the men’s soccer showcase, expanded to 48 teams for the 2026 tournament. FIFA will select up to 16 host cities from the 23 candidates proposed in the North American bid.

Earlier in the day, Montreal mayor Valerie Plante retweeted a video of the bid team’s jubilant reaction to the news.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also used social media to extend his support for the winning bid.

“Good news this morning: The 2026 FIFA World Cup is coming to Canada, the US and Mexico,” read a tweet on his official account. “Congratulations to everyone who worked hard on this bid – it’s going to be a great tournament!”

Bill Manning, president of Toronto FC, said he expects to see several games unfold in the city, including matches played during the 32-team and 16-team elimination rounds.

Prior to the vote, Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association and Canada’s bid director, called the vote a “watershed moment” and a “game-changer.”

Canada failed in its lone previous bid to host the 1986 tournament after Colombia pulled out. That remains the only World Cup the Canadian men have ever qualified for.

Mexico has twice hosted the World Cup, in 1970 and 1986. The U.S. hosted in 1994.