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Column: Canadian taxpayers getting soaked by FIFA

"Taxpayers can’t afford to pay for luxury suites and private elevators," the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said.
Fog BC Place Vancouver
BC Place is set to host 13 FIFA Men's World Cup games in 2026, including two playoff matches.

Watch for your thank-you note from the FIFA World Cup organizers because here’s what they want you to pay for: brand new luxury suites, elevators to those suites and a private VIP entrance to that elevator.

Oh yeah — FIFA also wants a private walkway connecting those luxury suites to the casino in case the beautiful game gets boring and it’s time for a blackjack break. That’s not too much to ask, right?

It’s such a lovely plan. Taxpayers get the privilege of paying for all this luxury, but the mega-rich who enjoy it won’t have to mingle with the unwashed masses.

About that bill: for the privilege of hosting FIFA, B.C. and Vancouver taxpayers will have to fork over at least $260 million. 

For context, that money would pay for about 2,700 registered nurses or give about 115,000 Vancouverites a one-year vacation from provincial taxes.

Instead of giving the little guy a break by cutting property taxes, Vancouver and Toronto are spending your tax dollars to pamper oil oligarchs and millionaire athletes. 

Sure, most families are having a hard time just scraping by. But the politicians in Vancouver and Toronto would like to throw a big circus to make you forget that you can’t afford bread. 

Somehow, they don’t see anything wrong with people sleeping under bridges while politicians piss away our money to entertain the international elite. 

As the poor are pushed into ghettos on Vancouver’s downtown east-side, Mayors Ken Sim and Olivia Chow are bumping elbows with FIFA elites whose ethics record look like Satan’s laundry list.  

Taxpayers in Toronto are also being hosed by FIFA. 

Ontario is on the hook to spend at least $25 million to upgrade BMO Field, where the Toronto FIFA games are scheduled to take place. Toronto taxpayers will also be on the hook for $41.2 million to build and renovate nearby training facilities for visiting teams.

If that makes you mad, good. It should cause steam to spew out your ears. 

The cost for Toronto to host a few games is currently pegged at $290 million. In Vancouver, the cost is estimated to be up to $260 million

The B.C. government already approved a new tax in Vancouver to help raise the hundreds-of-millions needed to pay for the FIFA bonanza. The new Vancouver tax will be charged on all hotel stays in the city at a rate of 2.5 per cent, and will stick around until at least 2030, four years after the games. 

“FIFA has a lot of requirements,” Lana Popham, B.C. Minister of Tourism said with a smile. 

Politicians and FIFA mucky mucks may be smiling, but taxpayers sure aren’t. Popham and representatives from Vancouver’s stadium refuse to tell taxpayers exactly how much money they’re spending to make the venue more appealing for FIFA. 

Both Ontario and B.C. are strapped for cash and swimming in debt. 

B.C. is sitting on $101 billion of government debt, with no plans to balance the books. Ontario is the most indebted subnational jurisdiction in the world with a whopping $400-billion owed to creditors. The city of Toronto is also facing a $1.5-billion deficit

Then there’s the cost overruns. At the city level, costs have already soared. 

In 2018, Toronto politicians told taxpayers municipal costs would be less than $45 million. Today, the estimate is pegged at $90 million. Costs have already doubled years before the tournament’s first kickoff.  

Taxpayers should expect costs to spiral even further in the years ahead.

If FIFA wants to play in Canada, it should pay for the matches with sponsorships and ticket sales. Our own politicians definitely shouldn’t be hiding the bills from taxpayers. Because taxpayers can’t afford to pay for luxury suites and private elevators. 

Carson Binda is the B.C. Director and Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.