Detailing the Ever-Increasing Popularity of Soccer in Canada

Detailing the Ever-Increasing Popularity of Soccer in Canada

Every town in Canada is a hockey town. Hockey’s popularity among Canadians is very evident by the fact that the TV presentation of “Hockey Night in Canada” is one of the longest-running TV shows in world history. Since 1952, Hockey Night in Canada has been presented by the CBC network. It’s noteworthy that the brand is also owned by CBC or the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

It’s hard to imagine that any sport in Canada would reach the popularity of Hockey. With that said, it looks like soccer is on the move, soon to pass baseball and American football in popularity. Why is soccer becoming so popular in a country where temperatures can reach sub-zero over a quarter of the year? Let’s

The History of Soccer in Canada

Canada Soccer Team 1924
Canada Soccer Team 1924

The first known soccer match in Canada was played in the mid-1800s. By the arrival of the 20th century, professional and amateur soccer leagues and tournaments started popping up all around the country. Over the last 120+ years, soccer leagues have come and gone, but the popularity of soccer has continued to grow.

Currently, Canada’s men’s and women’s national teams are competitive on the world soccer stage. The progression has been startling, capped by the Canadian Women’s team claiming the Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

Youth Soccer in Canada is Expanding

As is the case in America, the success of soccer at the higher levels has caught the attention of Canada’s youth. It’s the youngest players who are aspiring to become great soccer players in their own rights.

In a recent study titled “The 2023 Canadian Youth Sports Report,” the data indicates that 16% of all Canadian youth between the ages of 3 and 17 were participating in some level of organized soccer. That’s a whopping 6.1 million of the youth population. That puts soccer at the top of the list ahead of hockey as a participation sport. In terms of media viewership of soccer matches, 20% to 24% of Canadian youth and 31% to 37% of Canadian parents reportedly like watching matches during FIFA World Cup events and the Olympics.

Note: Affordability seems to be the driving force behind Canadian parents supporting soccer for their children.

What’s Driving the Rising Popularity of Soccer in Canada?

David Wotherspoon Canada National Team
David Wotherspoon Canada National Team

When culture changes, it’s necessary to figure out why to help better predict what might happen in the future. It’s evident that something in Canadian culture is driving the country’s increased interest in the sport of soccer. In fact, there would appear to be two cultural changes that have Canadian soccer’s popularity
on the move.

Access to Online Sports Betting

In recent years, sports betting access has increased for Canadians. While mobile sports betting with Canadian-based operators is still illegal, it’s not illegal for Canadians to use foreign-based gambling sites like bet365 out of the United Kingdom.

For soccer’s popularity, it’s an exposure thing. Recreational sports bettors tend to be equal-opportunity gamblers. One day they will be trying to take advantage of Canadian online casino bonuses, and the next day they will be wagering on a darts match in England.

It’s not difficult to understand that Canadians enjoy wagering on popular U.S. sports like NCAA BB, NCAA FB, the NBA, the NFL, MLB, and Major League Soccer (MLS) with the NHL as a given. Where soccer gets a chance to shine is during hours when sports in the U.S. and Canada have gone dark. The time difference between North America and Europe makes a difference. Sports bettors will bet on sports and when European soccer is the only available option, so be it.

Bottom line: When people will bet on a sport, they are more likely to play and support it.

Changing Demographics

Toronto FC
Toronto FC

One of the biggest news stories worldwide is the migration problem that countries like Canada, England, and the U.S. are facing. How is that affecting the popularity of soccer in Canada?

The answer to that question lies in the answer to the question, “Where are migrants coming from?” The answer to that question is Africa, South America, and parts of Asia. What sport is popular in those regions? That’s right, it’s soccer, especially in South America.

As the migrant population in Canada increases, the culture has to change to accommodate the new residents. Their passion for soccer rivals the passion Canadians have for hockey, which explains why more soccer fields are being built and more soccer leagues are being formed.

Final Thought

The popularity of soccer in Canada will certainly be tested in 2026. Why? Canada has been selected as a co-host alongside Mexico and the U.S. for the 2026 FIFA World Cup Soccer event. It’s a good bet that when Canadian youth get front-row exposure to the best soccer teams and players in the world, it will boost soccer’s popularity forever.

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