Soccer, more commonly known the world over as football, is one the most popular sports in Canada. There are over 1 million people involved in the game up north, with over 820,000 registered players.
But to date, Canada’s Men’s National Soccer team has only ever qualified for one World Cup. That was 32 years ago back in 1986.
So, why hasn’t Canada’s team seen more international success?
One reason is this: most countries have their own domestic soccer league. England has the Premier League; Germany, the Bundesliga. Spain has La Liga, Netherlands the Eredivisie, Mexico Liga MX. You get the idea.
Canada has three teams competing in Major League Soccer, but since MLS is America’s own domestic league, it can be difficult for aspiring Canadian players to get ample 1st team playing time.
That is part of what makes the forthcoming Canadian Premier League so exciting for Canadian soccer fans.
Introducing the Canadian Premier League (CPL)
The Canadian Premier League (also referred to as the CPL or CanPL) was approved and announced on May 6, 2017. The CPL is Canada’s very own national domestic soccer league, and Canada’s only professional coast-to-coast league.
The CPL, fully sanctioned by FIFA, will commence its inaugural season in the spring of 2019.
The league’s first commissioner will be David Clanachan, a long time Tim Hortons Executive.
You can view a video of the Commissioner talking about the new league here.
Paul Beirne will be the President of the CPL. Mr. Beirne previously worked with Toronto FC, where he was heralded for his fan engagement. He was also head of commercial development for the English Premier League team Brighton Hove and Albion.
So far, Hamilton and Winnipeg are confirmed franchises. Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Moncton, Victoria, Quebec City, Mississauga, Fraser Valley, Kitchener-Waterloo, and York Region (Toronto) have been mentioned as possible locations for inaugural or future CPL clubs. The league expects to field 8-10 franchises by opening day.
Goals of the CPL
The idea for the CPL originated from talks between Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young and the Canadian Soccer Association.
One of his goals for the league is to help develop a professional soccer industry in Canada.
To help achieve that goal, the formation of Canadian Soccer Business (CSB) was also recently announced. CSB is a sports entity representing commercial assets for the Canadian Premier League and the Canadian Soccer Association.
The Hamilton Ticats executive calls the CSB a linchpin to legitimizing what the CPL is trying to do: develop a Canadian game that’s nowhere near reaching its ceiling.
This could produce an explosion of investor funding not just for the upstart league, but Canada’s national teams, both of which have room to grow into global entities.
With the CPL, more Canadians will have a clearer path to playing professionally. It will also cultivate a new generation of officials, coaches, referees and business for Canadian soccer.
Excitement for the CPL
The formation of the CPL is truly a grassroots effort that involved a lot of people in the Canadian soccer landscape. To get an idea of what it means to some soccer supporters in Canada, watch this video.
Supporters groups are already popping up across Canada in anticipation of the launch.
The most notable is the Barton St. Battalion, who have been closely involved in the process of bringing a Hamilton club to the league. Others include the Halifax Wanderers, the Grand River Union (for Kitchener-Waterloo and the surrounding area), Red River Rising (Winnipeg) and the Sauga City Collective.
Stadiums for teams in the league will be a mixture of new builds and existing CFL venues. Hamilton, for example, will play at Tim Hortons Field, the home of the Tiger-Cats.
Getting excited about the CPL? Check out their newly redesigned website where fans can learn about details of the league, its teams, matches, and ticket information as they are announced. The CPL also just revealed their new league identity with a great new logo.