Canadian pride runs deep when the country is represented on the world stage. Whether it be Bianca Andreescu, who won the US Open in 2019, or Sidney Crosby’s golden goal, scored in the 2010 Olympics, Canadians are always there to support their athletes and celebrate their triumphs. The men’s national soccer team is no different.
With the 2022 World Cup looming, Canada looks to make history as they set their eyes on host city Qatar. A qualification would mark the team’s second World Cup appearance and its first since 1986. Canada, now one win away from a World Cup berth, has become one of the biggest underdogs in the world. Canada started January 2017, ranked 120 in the Men’s FIFA Ranking; they now rank 33. With the team undefeated in the final round of World Cup Qualifiers, fans are blown away as their team is on the brink of clinching a spot in Qatar.
Soccer is not a new sport to Canadian residents. During the World Cup, Euro Cup, and Copa America, fans place flags on their cars and in their homes to show support for their respective team. A World Cup appearance could start to create a new culture in Canada, one that slowly sees die-hard fans, who support other countries, turn their heads towards Canada. In other words, the men’s national soccer team has given fans something to be proud of.
The quick growth in the national team’s quality is no coincidence. A culture has been slowly developing over the past decade.
Martin Torres, who is receiving his coaching licence with Ontario Soccer, says, “TFC started in 2007 as the first big professional club to come to Canada. The support for that club has grown not only into one club, but three professional clubs, and into the Canadian Premier League.”
By the time Torres registers as a licenced coach, he will be one of nearly 12,000 licensed coaches around the country.
Canada Soccer created a strong foundation for fans to follow the game domestically and for young children to grow in the game. While Torres acknowledges some key reasons for the growth in soccer over the past decade, there is another and it is most recently known for a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The women’s national team has been carrying Canadian soccer for the last decade. The women’s team won back-to-back bronze medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016, before winning a gold medal at Tokyo 2020. As Canada soccer slowly developed the Canadian Premier League and MLS representatives, the women’s team kept soccer alive.
According to Canada Soccer’s financial statement, Canada raised a revenue of $24.5 million. With the pandemic causing closures, Canada only made $14.5 million in 2020. Now, with many of those closures having lifted, the 2021 financial statement is expected to see a massive rise in revenue.
The men’s national team now sells out tickets in minutes. Fans are not only consumers of tickets, but they are also marketers. Fans play a large role in branding the team by hosting events and promoting everything related to Canadian soccer on-line. The Voyageurs is Canada’s official fan club. With over 10,000 members, the Voyageurs have become the primary representation for all Canadian soccer fans.
Michael Martins has been a proud member of the Voyageurs for over 10 years. In November 2021, he and hundreds of others flew from Toronto to Edmonton to watch Canada take on Mexico, in what is now remembered as a proud win for Canadian men’s soccer.
Martins says, “The club has grown incredibly fast over the past two years. We now have hundreds of Canadian flags that we leave spread out across our section. We also have leaders that show up hours before the game to host cheering events.”
Martins, who will be travelling on March 24 to Costa Rica to watch Canada potentially clinch a World Cup berth adds, “There’s been times where it’s been hard to watch, but I won’t stop supporting our boys.”
Although fans play a large role in promoting the game around the country, Canada Soccer has created a strong foundation for young players to showcase and develop their skills.
Many of the Canadian players developed their skills in Canada. Alphonso Davies, who is now a superstar in the world of soccer, started his career with the Vancouver Whitecaps prior to his move to Bayern Munich. With Canada Soccer continuing their development process, the sky is the limit with this international team.