Sunday, March 20, 2011

Where is Toronto?

 In early March, FIFA awarded Canada hosting rights for the 2015 Women's World Cup. Four years ago Canada fell short to Germany in hosting this summer's World Cup. The decision was inevitable as Canada's lone competitor, Zimbabwe pulled out of the running a week earlier.

  In 2015, the Women's World Cup will expand from 16 countries to 24 and from 32 matches to 52. Same size tournament as the FIFA men's U-20 World Cup in 2007.

 When Canada hosted in 2007, it attracted close to 1.2 million spectators and generated an estimated $259 million in economic activity across Canada.
  Now that the ball has been thrown in Canada's corner again, it's up to the Canadian Soccer Association to pick official host cities. Nothing willl be decided until after a series of reviews by FIFA. A minimum of six cites willl be chosen. Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Moncton, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver are up for consideration. But where is Toronto?

  In the beginning bidding stages, Toronto was invited to be a part of the process. "In early November we received a letter from Tourism Toronto, representing the city, indicating they no longer wanted to be a part of the bid" said Montopoli.

  Toronto is set to host the Pan American Games from July 10-26, 2015.

  When trying to reach CEO of Tourism Toronto, David Whitaker, he was unavailable.

  A call to mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford's press secretary was not immediately returned.

  So one has to wonder, what the heck is going on. Yeah, okay, Toronto is hosting the Pan Am Games that summer, so what? The event isn't set to begin till a month after the opening game of the World Cup. Surely an established city such as Toronto can host both.

  Don't get me wrong here. Of course I believe hosting the Women's World Cup willl be successful without Toronto's involvement. Receiving hosting rights is an unbelievable opportunity for Canada to showcase its talent and get people excited about the game from coast to coast. Hosting a world event unifies a nation, just like we all experienced during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Undoubtedly similar reactions willl occur once Canada welcomes the world's best female footballers. So why am I insisting Toronto get hosting rights? Well aside from the obvious bias reasons:

  • Toronto is home to BMO Field, Canada's National Stadium. How can Canada host a world event without the involvement of its national stadium?
  • The Skydome Rogers Center, one of Toronto's popular tourist attractions, is another possible venue. Rogers Center can hold over 46,000 people for a soccer match.
  • Canada's first MLS franchise was Toronto FC who plays in front of near capacity crowds every game. Attendance won't be an issue.
  • Toronto hosting the Pan Am Games a month after the World Cup begins? What better way to sell last minute tickets and hype up the event than to host a few games?
  • Several players on the team have family living in the GTA and its surrounding area or live there themselves. To play in front of loved ones at the world stage is a once in a life time opportunity.
  • When Canada hosted FIFA' men's U-20 tournament, Toronto was host to 25% of the games, one of which was the championship game. We have experience.
  • Toronto is Canada's largest city. How can it be excluded?
  It was Toronto's decision to back out, but it's early yet. Representatives from the CSA and FIFA will not tour proposed sites until the fall and host cities willl not be confirmed until this evaluation is complete. "They have to follow up and be a part of everything that everybody else has gotten to this point and this stage right now" said Montopoli. Toronto still has a chance to participate. "Is there a potential for another city to come in? I would say the list is not exhausted by any means" Garry Lunn, the federal Minister of State for Sport said. It's up to the city of Toronto to decide weather or not it's worth it. Easy answer for me.

  At the end of the day, all us Torontonian footy fans are asking for is one game, just give us one. I could care less if it's the two lowest ranked teams playing, I just want a taste of World Cup glory in my hometown. It willl be a hard pill to swallow if Canada goes on without Toronto, only time shall tell.

  Regardless of where the games are played, I plan on attending as many matches as possible. Soccer enthusiasts across the country should be pumped that Canada has qualified for a sixth Women's World Cup. Possible championship repeat at home? Probably getting ahead of myself, but definitely not a stretch.

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