Although soccer is not as popular as hockey in Canada, it is still widely enjoyed. According to a 2012 poll, 8.4% of Canadians aged 15 and over reported that soccer was their favourite sport to watch. This made it the fourth most popular sport in the country, behind hockey (35%), football (11%), and baseball (9.6%). Soccer is also popular among young Canadians, with 13% of respondents aged 15-24 listing it as their favourite sport.
There are several professional soccer teams in Canada, including Major League Soccer (MLS) teams Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Toronto FC, and Montreal Impact. The Canadian national soccer team has also enjoyed some success in recent years, qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in 1986 and 1994.
Despite not being as popular as other sports, soccer still has a large and passionate following in Canada. From avid fans to casual viewers, the sport continues to grow in popularity yearly.
When compared to other sports, Canadian soccer fans turn out in droves:
Attendance at Canadian Professional Sports Teams (Per Game)
- MLS (’19) – 19,925
- Canadian MNT (’21) -29,877
- NHL (’19) -17,860
- NHL (’21)-14,870
- CFL (’19)-22,920
- CFL (’21)-19,058
- NBA (’21)-18,333
- MLB (’19)-21,607
There will be virtually no difference in fan attendance in 2021 between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Major League Soccer (MLS) teams from Canada, who will play only 17 out of 51 home games in front of their fans in the Sunshine State. It’s like trying to explain CFL rules to someone who has never seen an NFL game.)
In 2021, the men’s national team had the highest attendance of any Canadian group, while Canada’s MLS teams were in the middle of the pack.
Only in terms of viewership does soccer fall short.
According to a survey that SportsNet Canada conducted in 2017, soccer was ranked as the fourth most popular spectator sport in Canada. The survey participants’ preferred sport was hockey (40 percent), football (10 percent), and baseball. Only 7 percent of respondents chose soccer (11 percent ). (3 percent). A percentage equal to 5% of the total population (8 percentage points out of the total)
For Millenials and Gen Xers, soccer came in second place.
The most people to watch a Canadian game was 1.15 million, and they did so to protect their national soccer team beat Mexico in a World Cup qualifying match in November of 2021. This was a record for most people to watch a Canadian game.
In the context of the sport of soccer in Canada, it is difficult to argue against the meteoric rise in the popularity of women’s soccer.
The women’s gold medal game between Canada and Sweden at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games was viewed by 4.4 million Canadians, making it the most-watched event in the country. The game took place at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Although hockey has a long and illustrious history in Canada, I believe that soccer has surpassed hockey as the game with the second-most fans in the country.
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History of Soccer in Canada
What is considered the first recorded game of soccer in Canada was played in 1859 between a St. George’s Society and an Irish team.
New Westminster, British Columbia, hosted competitions in 1862 and 1865. As a result of the Dominion Football Association’s founding in 1877, the game was first played outside of Britain and Ireland.
Two years later, the first local book on games was published.
Western Football Association founded in 1880; the Manitoba Football Association in 1896; the Ontario Football Association was established in 1901; and the Saskatchewan Football Association was established in 1905 as the sport spread across the provinces and became more popular.
They finally played their first professional game after another five years.
The country’s soccer future is bright, partly because it will co-host the FIFA World Cup in 2026 with the United States and Mexico.
The men’s national hockey team has not enjoyed the same success as the women’s. This team’s best World Cup and Olympic performances were in 1986.
That all changes in five years when all World Cup hosts receive the boost in popularity that sports have traditionally received from hosting events.
The game has all the fundamentals in place and is poised for further growth in the years ahead.
Soccer is, without a doubt, the most widely played sport among children of both sexes. Immigrants are increasingly crucial in boosting attendance for domestic and international sporting events.
Immigrants from all over the world, many of whom brought their soccer skills with them, have been welcomed by Canadians in recent years.
Children’s participation in organized soccer has grown as a result, as has the quality of play.
We can expect to see an increase in the number of adults who follow the sport as more and more children take up the sport.
This is encouraging news for Canadian soccer’s future.