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Canadian soccer officials talk up World Cup bid at Champions League final


Top Canadian soccer officials were at Saturday's Champions League final in Kyiv, mixing business with pleasure as they pressed their case for the so-called unified 2026 World Cup bid.

Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are up against Morocco to host soccer's biggest showcase with a June 13 vote looming.

The Canadian Soccer Association contingent included president Steven Reed, general secretary and Canada bid director Peter Montopoli and former president Victor Montagliani, who doubles as CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president.

The 211 FIFA member associations, minus the bidding countries and any suspended nations, will decide on the host at a vote at the FIFA Congress next month in Moscow.

The Canadians, along with their U.S. and Mexican counterparts, made a presentation to Baltic nations prior to Saturday's game. They had previously met with other European soccer officials in Ukraine for the Liverpool-Real Madrid showdown at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium.

Montagliani said there would be more talks at the stadium — before and after but not during the game.

"That's the good thing about it. Once the game kicks off, everybody watches," Montagliani said Saturday prior to kickoff. "Football is football and everybody here is a football person. Once the whistle blows, everybody's going to be focusing on the pitch. So we'll get to enjoy the game.

"But in between that, there's a lot of sort of shaking hands and taking about the bid. We'll be doing that right up until June 13."

The Canadians have been piling up the frequent-flyer miles in their bid to leave no stone unturned in their sales job.

Reed has been to at least a dozen countries the last two weeks, with the CSA reluctant to make public his full itinerary so as to not tip off Morocco of its strategy.

There was a stop in Istanbul this week with Reed meeting up with Canadian captain Atiba Hutchinson, who plays his club soccer for Besiktas in the Turkish capital.

FIFA reforms have opened up the World Cup voting process, which in the past only involved the 24-person FIFA executive committee. The expanded 2026 tournament will feature 48 countries and 80 games.

The current unified bid blueprint calls for 60 games to be staged in the U.S. with Canada and Mexico splitting the remaining 20.

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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