Prepare yourself a black coffee. There are two big bites to digest this morning.
The World Cup of soccer in Montreal.
And the Summer Olympics in Montreal.
Two ambitious projects. May be too much.
Let’s start with the 2026 Soccer World Cup, which will be presented in Canada, the United States and Mexico. It’s a great event, overseen by a group that is not badly less. The International Federation of Association Football. Better known by its acronym: FIFA. An organization plagued for 10 years by fraud, corruption and money laundering scandals.
Examples ? There are plenty. Here, I have prepared a little table for you. What happened to some of the 22 FIFA executives who awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar? –
– Sepp Blatter, president: banned from soccer for six years;
– Rafael Salguero : guilty of corruption for having sold his vote;
– (Fire) Chuck Blazer : guilty of money laundering, tax evasion, concealment and fraud;
– Jack warner : banned for life, sentenced in the United States for fraud;
– Ricardo Teixeira : banned for life for corruption, suspected of having received 37 million in bribes;
– Mohammed bin hamma : banned for life for corruption;
– Michel platini : banned from soccer for four years;
– Nicolas leoz : died before knowing the outcome of his trial for corruption;
– Worawi Makudi : banned for five years for using forgery;
– Vitaly mutko, Minister of Sports of Russia: involved in the doping scandal of Russian athletes.
Since then, FIFA claims to have cleaned up its ranks. We want to believe her. Except that its current president, Gianni Infantino, is the subject of criminal proceedings in Switzerland. He met in secret with the Attorney General of Switzerland, whose team was investigating allegations of corruption… towards FIFA.
Mr. Infantino is also known for his extravagant expense allowance, for which he claimed, for example, the reimbursement of a bed mattress of $ 14,000.
Let’s say that I would be careful before giving my PIN to FIFA.
* * *
When FIFA awarded the World Cup to the countries of North America in 2018, the City of Montreal showed an interest in becoming a host city. She slipped a word about it in Quebec and Ottawa.
Quickly, the three governments agreed on the main lines of the candidacy: 150 million for six games. The bill was going to be divided into three equal parts. The economic benefits were estimated at 210 million.
Except that over the months, the amount of the invoice has swelled. Last fall, Quebec redone its calculations, taking into account FIFA’s requirements. The project now cost 300 million … for only three games. The fallout had fallen to 105 million. Not badly less tempting.
And other expenses were coming. Quebec predicted another increase in costs by the time the specifications were finalized in 2023. All at the discretion of FIFA.
It’s a bit like going to a furniture store. That you give your credit card to the seller. Then he could choose all the furniture he wanted you to buy, regardless of your credit limit.
Wait, it’s not over.
Around matches in host cities, FIFA demands an “event vacuum”.
Three sources involved in the case told me that this measure would force the cancellation or postponement of the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Francos and perhaps Just for Laughs.
The Quebec government was afraid of further weakening the key events of the Montreal summer. So he withdrew his marbles. With reason. Montreal and Ottawa are now exploring their options. Will they invest more than 300 million two, rather than three? I very much doubt it.
Please understand me. The Soccer World Cup is a spectacular event. A competition that will undoubtedly encourage the practice of soccer in the country. Except that to host games, there is a price to pay. Each city sets a limit.
And that of Montreal seems to me to have already been largely exceeded.
* * *
In parallel, Press revealed Tuesday that the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is studying the possibility of presenting a joint bid from Montreal and Toronto for future Summer Olympics.
What was the first reaction of quite a few Quebecers?
” No thanks. ”
It’s true, we have already acted in that film. It had ended badly. For Quebecers over 55, the wound is still alive. Now it was 1976. 45 years ago.
Since then, the Olympic movement has changed a lot. After a phase of wild growth, which culminated in the madness of the Sochi Games (50 billion!), The International Olympic Committee revised its strategy. He now wants to organize more modest Games. Use existing facilities, rather than requiring the construction of new stadiums. This will also be the case for the Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028) Games.
It is in this context that the COC sees an opportunity for Montreal and Toronto. Together, the two cities have an impressive portfolio of stadiums and sports centers. Enough to broadly cover the entire spectrum of competitions. Just in Montreal, in addition to the Olympic Stadium, there is the Percival-Molson stadium, the Saputo stadium, the Place Bell (Laval), the Claude-Robillard center, the Pierre-Charbonneau center, the facilities at Parc Jean-Drapeau and Mount Royal, for cycling.
In addition, the two cities have recently hosted – with success – several major sporting events, such as the Pan American Games (Toronto, 2015) and the World Gymnastics Championships (Montreal, 2016).
The challenge ? Social acceptance. Public finances are battered by the pandemic. There are obviously other priority issues in the country. Don’t worry, the COC knows it. That’s why it doesn’t make waves. Let him not ask governments yet. Now is not the time.
Will it be in three, four or five years?
Maybe yes. Maybe not. But until then, before we double-close the door, let’s at least give the COC the chance to study the viability of this surprising candidacy.
After all, it doesn’t cost much to dream.