Vancouver FIFA bid is a pretty looking diversion

While crises fester beneath the surface, governments are readying for an all-exclusive spending spree

Vancouver was chosen to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026. (Shutterstock/Paul Clarke)

Vancouver was chosen to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026. (Shutterstock/Paul Clarke)

Due to arrive in 2026 will be what many in the world considers to be a crown jewel of events is the FIFA World Cup tournament. Vancouver will host the tournament jointly with the United States and Mexico, with the expectation that the U.S. will be taking on the majority of matches. 

The city has been host to many concerts, shows, and various sporting events. Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010, and then a year later the Canucks took on the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. 

But the city will be taking on a massive financial cost, especially considering Vancouver also placed a bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and is among the top three cities for consideration. 

Some argue there are economic boons to be had, which is a positive development that is usually a temporary benefit for investors. Whereas skeptics say FIFA is more of a boondoggle —- basically a waste of money and time. 

Previous hosts of FIFA contributed billions for the privilege of being home to the tournament, including this year’s host Qatar. Every World Cup host since the U.S. hosted in 1994 has had the spectacle cost of billions of dollars, with the aforementioned oil-rich kingdom of Qatar expected to shell out $220 billion. 

Of course, it would be ludicrous to think that Vancouver, the province of British Columbia, or Canada as a whole would even try to match that price for 2030, but that does not mean our World Cup would be a money saver’s dream. 

The government estimates Vancouver’s portion of the joint venture may be as high as $260 million. In return, a news release says early modelling estimates $1 billion in revenue would be generated towards “B.C.’s tourism sector during the tournament and in the five years following, depending on the number of matches played in Vancouver.” 

This sounds all well and good. A tidy profit will be made and everybody should walk away happy, right? The pertinent question should be who exactly counts as “everybody.” 

To be frank, odds are most of the $1 billion will be going straight into the hands of tourism and hospitality industry executives. Plus, some pocket-lining for whichever construction companies win the contract to prepare Vancouver’s venues and facilities in time for the big show. Ordinary working people will be lucky to see even a fraction headed vaguely towards their general direction. 

None of that will do much to alleviate the strife that Metro Vancouver residents have had to endure for the past two years with the COVID-19 pandemic and a real estate market so out of control that has left Vancouver the third least affordable city on the planet. Needless to say, there are bigger priorities for the city council, the Legislative Assembly, and Parliament Hill to be concerned with than a soccer tournament.

“Bread and circuses” is going on. In other words, it’s just superficial appeasement for political policy.  

In lieu of material solutions to on-going economic woes, money is being thrown at massive distraction that will look impressive and do little to benefit the locals. 

Those funds could be better used by directing them towards affordable housing, at-risk infrastructure, safe injection sites, healthcare, and a whole slew of other quality-of-life initiatives that would do better by Vancouverites, British Columbians, and Canadians as a whole. 

Indeed, spectacles are always a splendour to behold, but know there are opportunity costs too.