Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana Heather Cameron is optimistic her country, despite not famed for football, will host a splendid FIFA World Cup in 2026.

The Maple Leaf country was part of The United Bid alongside USA and Mexico which won the rights to host an expanded 48-team tournament.

The United bid received 134 votes, beating Morocco who received 65 votes for the rights.

It offers the Canada Soccer's Men's National Team an opportunity to play in the tournament for the first time in their footballing history.

''Well, of course, we are known for Hockey and other winter sports. We are a Northern country, winter and the cold is a really strong part of our identity, but Canada is changing,'' Mrs Cameron told Joy Sports.

''Soccer as we call it or football as you call it is the fastest growing sport in Canada and we have three Canadian teams in the Major League Soccer league in Toronto, Monreal [Impact] and Vancouver [Whitecaps].''

However, there are concerns with the citizens will patronize the Mundial to pull off a grande-stand tournament.

''I think it is going to be an opportunity to show a hidden side of Canada, one that enjoys football perhaps quite not with the same passion as Ghanaians and other soccer continents, but definitely a sport we are learning to love more and more and I think the world cup in Canada will be the catalytic,'' she added.

''Our women's national team has won the bronze Olympic medal in 2012 and 2016 so women's soccer is amongst the best in the world and am sure the men's soccer is not too far behind.

''Just look what happened to the FIFA Women's World Cup. We had games in six different cities right across the country and great turnout well over 1,300,000 spectators for that tournament.

''I think that was record-breaking for the Women's World cup and Canadians loved having all of these teams there and showed up in practices and so forth.''

Before 2026 will be the finals in Qatar four years from now. The first step will be to get through four qualifying matches between now and March 2019 to earn a spot in Concacaf Nations League Group A as well as the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Mrs Cameron added: ''I am sure by 2026 the enthusiasm is going to amount more and more with so many more teams participating in the world cup as well.

''There is going to be lots of interest and lots of opportunities for Canadians to engage with football.

''Well, I think two things. Canada will host many international sporting events and the most recent and biggest is the FIFA women's world cup. Before that the winter Olympics and we always use that as an opportunity to communicate to the world who we are as a country and to invite the world to come and join us for those events.''

Olympic Stadium (Montreal, Quebec), Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta and BMO Field in Toronto have selected as venues for the tournament.

''I am sure there would be a great welcome and fans who legitimately come to watch the games are going to have a great opportunity to get to know Canada a little bit better,'' Ms Cameron reiterated.

''But I think football is like that with sports. It is more than the match itself, it's about teamwork, determination and passion.

''I think having the world in Canada will help strengthen the passion for football in our own country.

''It's also an opportunity to remind us about the role sports can play in developing communities and developing identities and healthy lifestyle as well.''

Tags: