Last year, 16 cities, including Seattle and Vancouver, were selected to be hosts for the 2026 World Cup matches. Then FIFA told every city to just shut up if anyone asked about expenses. FIFA was exhausted from dodging and deflecting questions from other cities. It is well-known that the hosting cities are expected “to pay most of the costs”.
But when cities like Chicago, Vancouver and Minneapolis tried to get “a basic level of certainty on some major unknowns”, FIFA ignored them. Consequently, cities had to decide whether they could figure out a number of “huge and unpredictable costs” without FIFA help. For example, FIFA telling Chicago that they may require Solider Field to have a dome over it…at the city’s expense. May?
They also made everyone involved in the negotiations sign a Non-Disclosure Form (NDA). FIFA loves their NDA’s.
- When people in Nigeria wanted to know how much public money was spent flying out numerous people to the matches, government officials couldn’t answer due to a required NDA by FIFA.
- Several reporters asked their governments about the countless human rights abuses in Qatar before their world cup. They got the same response…“it could not commit to disclosing information relating to workers at their World Cup-serviced apartments due to a non-disclosure agreement”.
- When FIFA’s president proposed expanding the spots in each World Cup, he claimed that “investors” promised him that FIFA could make $25B per event. These investors were described as “among the world’s most solid but are unnamed” because the FIFA President “had signed a non-disclosure agreement”.
- UEFA’s (Union of European Football Association) President was furious about these “investors” and their “nebulous private funds” being the reason for the expansion. Sadly, he can’t tell us who these private investors are because “he ha(d) signed a non-disclosure agreement”.
Back to the present. While no city is being completely open about how much taxpayer money will be used, Seattle is at least having public meetings with organizers and giving dollar estimates to the expenses (possibly $10 million?). However, Seattle does seem to be under the mistaken impression that “almost” every dollar spent on hosting the World Cup will be “recovered”, according to a memo from the mayor’s office. Which stands no chance in hell of ever coming close to happening. They are likely saying this because a FIFA-sponsored study claimed that a hosting city for the 2026 World Cup would “see $160 million to $620 million in extra economic activity”. In Toronto, they also released a report claiming that in return for their city spending almost $300 million, they would obtain a $307 million economic impact, 3,300 jobs, 174,000 overnight visitors and $3.5 million municipal accommodation tax revenue. A bit of an issue, though. The report did not include the methodology used. So it could have been a random person on the street coming up with hit-or-miss numbers.
But one city who was also announced as a host is not taking the same approach as Seattle. Vancouver has taken the hide-your-head-in-the-sand technique when people ask about the costs of hosting. Vancouver has had no open city meetings about the World Cup, no presentations, nor any releasing of city contracts with FIFA. One of the few things that we did find out, however, was that FIFA wants to use the city Amphitheater for their Fan Fest.
Vancouver’s mayor recently came out and defended the city for sharing nothing. According to him, city leaders are “bound by confidentiality agreements” and therefore cannot talk about the city contract, which discusses “the duties of the event host and the event owner”. He also wants the public to know that when he or the city has information to give, the city will release it “enthusiastically”. Nothing is worse than a mayor giving out information with a sad voice.
He does have some good news. Taxpayers will not get screwed. He pinky-promises.
“Some things can be disclosed, some can’t… But let’s be very, very clear… The City of Vancouver would not enter into something that we believe would be detrimental to the taxpayers, the residents, not only of Vancouver, but the province as well”— Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, Castanet.net, 08/29/2023
In terms of numbers, this is what we know so far. There is supposed to be a split of costs between the “municipal, provincial and federal” levels of government. However, as CBC.ca notes, the federal government “could” pay for up to 35% of the total price if they follow their policy on international events. Last year, the province of British Columbia announced that taxpayers should expect a bill between “$240m-$260m”. Later on, that number was dropped to $230 million in costs. To help pay for these costs, Vancouver was given the power to levy a 2.5% tax hike through 2030.