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Toronto the latest 2026 World Cup host to disclose its FIFA contracts

Canadian Taxpayers Federation: "Any kind of redaction with these documents, with agreements to spend taxpayer money, that’s a problem."
Toronto is set to host Canada's opening match of FIFA World Cup 26.

Toronto’s city manager signed a nine-page addendum to the FIFA host city contract almost two weeks before FIFA named it one of 16 cities for the 2026 World Cup. 

That is according to documents obtained under freedom of information by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and released on Thursday. 

B.C. director Carson Binda showed off the partly censored file outside Vancouver city hall, where officials refuse to release the local contract with soccer’s Switzerland-based, world governing body to a reporter. An appeal is underway to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. 

Toronto city hall is the latest to open its files, after Seattle city council released its contracts last August and Santa Clara, Calif. followed in January with a partly censored public version.

“Any kind of redaction with these documents, with agreements to spend taxpayer money, that’s a problem,” Binda said. “Taxpayers deserve to know how the politicians and FIFA executives are spending our tax dollars.”

The host city and stadium agreements, which are substantially the same, date back to 2018, before FIFA selected the U.S., Canada and Mexico joint bid. In Toronto’s case, it was signed by Peter Wallace, who resigned in April 2018 to join the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. 

The contract regulates almost every aspect of the tournament down to fine details, from police escorts for FIFA executives and heads of state and road closures and lane restrictions to backup power supply and advertising and commercial activities near stadiums. 

“The parties agree that they shall cooperate in good faith to minimize non-refundable taxes, duties and levies in line with applicable legislation and practice,” the Toronto contract states. 

The host city shall bear the cost of any municipal taxes, duties or levies. In the event of cancellation, abandonment, postponement or relocation, Toronto shall not receive compensation or seek compensation from FIFA.

The contract, which runs through Dec. 31, 2026, even stipulates that no other major sporting event is allowed in the host city, beginning seven days prior to the first match, all the way until seven days after the final match. There can be no other substantial cultural events, such as concerts, other than those approved by FIFA, between one day prior to a match day and one day after a match day. 

Toronto’s addendum emphasized that the host committee is responsible to plan, coordinate and procure — at no cost to FIFA — all public safety and security resources. 

“For all competition activities that will take place in and around the host city and stadium, as well as all private security resources with respect to FIFA Fan Fest in its current format,” said the document, signed June 3, 2022 by city manager Chris Murray. “This obligation extends to specific safety and security equipment required to be installed within any sites by local, provincial or federal authorities, even if used by private safety and security staff.”

The requirement extends to fire department and emergency medical service operations at team hotels and training sites, for spectators, accreditation holders, media representatives, players and other attendees, “including… access to hospital services.” 

FIFA also required that Toronto provide it office space, at no cost, by Jan. 1, 2023 for up to 10 FIFA personnel, “at the stadium, host city centre or another similar location acceptable to FIFA until the end of the competition.”

“What's unfair is expecting taxpayers to pick up that slack for FIFA, which is a multibillion-dollar organization,” Binda said. 

Host cities are expected to follow all FIFA instructions and report all material information and developments about their activities, including regular budget updates. FIFA agreed to pay one-third of basic stadium rental fees six months prior to the first match in Toronto, another third 90 days prior and the final third 30 days prior to kickoff. 

FIFA is also “unfettered in its right and ability” to change and choose cities and venues.

Within the Toronto file is an additional exit clause, that allowed Toronto to withdraw its bid to host matches at BMO Field, without penalty, by the end of June 2020, if federal and Ontario financial support and security funding conditions were not met. 

Toronto city hall recently estimated the cost of hosting at $380 million. The provincial government pledged $97 million on the condition that the federal government provide matching funds.

Vancouver city hall budgeted $230 million in early 2023 when it anticipated five matches. Last month, FIFA awarded Vancouver seven matches. The NDP government has refused to release the latest budget figure while it awaits estimates for BC Place Stadium renovations.

Among the pages fully censored from the Toronto contract is a pamphlet titled “FIFA World Cup 2026: Host Committees Rights and Assets.”

The version Seattle released states that FIFA will allow the host city committee to buy, ahead of the public, as much as 1.5 percent of tickets per hosted match. “These tickets can be used to assist fundraising efforts and included as part of a host city supporter package.”

FIFA also provides host cities with 175 to 250 complimentary VIP tickets at each match they host and a small amount of tickets to matches in other cities — even four to attend the World Cup final that are not available for public purchase and cannot be resold.