When you think of sports in Canada, it’s pretty much impossible for your mind not to drift to ice hockey (or just hockey as they call it over there). It’s the primary sport and it’s the primary form of entertainment for a lot of natives, and we can understand why. It’s hard-hitting, it’s fast paced, and it gives guys a chance to really bond and unite a city.
Of course there’s hockey to be found all over the country, but only a handful of Canadian teams actually play in the National Hockey League: also known as the NHL. As we all know it is primarily based over in the United States of America, so while hockey may be the number one sport over there, they’re still kind of playing second fiddle to their neighbours when it comes to running the show.
As reported by The Guardian, however, there seems to be one sport that is putting the pieces in place to make Canada a force to be reckoned with in another sport – and that sport is soccer. From the word go we can probably imagine how many of you are pushing the panic buttons and laughing this off as nothing more than a joke, but let’s take the time to really consider the options available to us here.
You’ve got the gridiron aka football aka American football, which by name alone is clearly reserved (primarily) for the Americans. Then you’ve got basketball, and while the Toronto Raptors may be doing some interesting things right now in the league, that doesn’t mean Canada is ‘taking over’. Toronto also has a presence in the MLB, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, soccer seems to be the leading candidate for the title of ‘next best’ after hockey.
The primary reason as to why this is being brought up is the introduction of the Canadian Premier League, which is Canada’s equivalent of the MLS. It doesn’t exactly seem likely that they’re going to take the Canadian teams currently playing over there into their own league, but they don’t really need to. As long as they can build up a solid fanbase and start finding their own identity, then there’s no reason to think that they can’t be successful.
This report from Sportsnet highlights the growing desire to see soccer build a foundation in the Great White North, and personally, we think attracting more than 17,000 spectators to an inaugural game isn’t bad going at all. Sure, the stadiums may be able to fit more people than arenas in a general sense, but you need to have the kind of talent pool available that will make people want to pay to come and watch in the first place.
It’s not exactly a myth that the 2026 FIFA World Cup is going to take part in North America, and we need to realise and understand what this could mean for Canadian soccer. The national team has a chance to showcase themselves on the world stage in a way that they haven’t done before, and if they avoid embarrassment and build a nice following, it could mean some big things for them in the future.