Soccer in Canada
|Soccer in Canada|
|Governing body||Canadian Soccer Association|
|National team||Canada (men), Canada (women)|
|Nickname(s)||Canucks, Les Rouges|
|First played||Toronto, 1876|
|Registered players||2,695,712 (total)
|Single match||71,619 (1976) East Germany vs Poland (Olympic Stadium, Montreal)|
The game is played in Canada according to the rules of association football. In the early days what is called soccer today was generally known as football. The Manitoba Football Association was one of the first provincial football association formed in Canada in 1896. It was followed by the Ontario Football Association in 1901, the Saskatchewan Football Association in 1906, the Alberta Football Association in 1909 and the Province of Quebec Football Association in 1911, and preceded by the British Columbia Football Association in 1891. They were followed by the formation of the Dominion of Canada Football Association in 1912. The governing body of the game retained that name until it was changed to The Football Association of Canada on June 6, 1952. The Association later changed its name to the Canadian Soccer Football Association in 1958 and then at last to the Canadian Soccer Association in 1971.
One of the earliest recorded games was played in Toronto in 1859 between the St. George's Society and a team of Irishmen. Games were played in New Westminster in 1862 and in Victoria in 1865. The first game played under modern rules took place in Toronto in 1876, after which the Dominion Football Association, the first recorded football association outside the British Isles, was formed in Toronto in 1877 to foster competition between local sides. The first soccer/football book published in Canada was published in Toronto in 1879 on March 5.
In 1880, the Western Football Association was formed in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario and played a major role in the subsequent development of the sport throughout southern Ontario. In the time around 1900, the WFA had teams throughout Western Ontario in various municipalities including Seaforth, Mildmay, Listowel, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Brussels, Dundas, Aylmer, Ayr, Tavistock, Preston, Galt and Berlin.
In 1885 and 1886, the Western Football Association sent teams to New Jersey to play both indoor and outdoor matches against teams representing the American Football Association, then the unofficial governing body of soccer in the United States. In the first unofficial international between the two countries in 1885 Canada defeated the United States 1-0 in East Newark, New Jersey. A year later the American side won 3-2 on the same field. Teams from the two organizations played one another on both sides of the border regularly in the years that followed.
In 1901 the Ontario Football Association was formed in Toronto and competition for the Ontario Cup began. Galt Football Club won the first edition of the tournament that still runs to this day. They represented the WFA at the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, Missouri, winning the gold medal. Only two other teams participated, both American clubs.
In 1905, the Saskatchewan Football Association was formed in the province of Saskatchewan, and by 1911 the Province of Quebec Football Association was formed in Montreal with Frank Calder, first president of the National Hockey League, playing a leading role in the PQFA's formation. The Alberta Football Association was incorporated in the same year.
The first ever professional game was played in Vancouver between the Callies and Rovers in 1910. In 1912, the founding meeting of the Dominion of Canada Football Association was held in Toronto on May 24, when provincial soccer executives laid the foundation of what is today's Canadian Soccer Association. The organization became a member of FIFA December 31, 1912. In 1926, the National Soccer League was formed with teams in Ontario and Quebec. On June 21, 1926, the DCFA resigned from FIFA and remained outside the world governing body, following the example of British associations in a dispute over broken time payments to amateurs. Hamilton's Whitey McDonald was signed by Scottish club Rangers in the 1920s, who spotted him while on tour in North America.
The Great Depression of the 1930s meant that the DCFA struggled financially and couldn't afford to hold annual meetings in 1932 and 1933 and from 1935 to 1940. In those years, business was conducted by mail. At one point, president Len Peto of Montreal loaned the DFA a considerable sum of money to stave off bankruptcy. The money was later repaid in full. Despite the hard times, Montreal-born goalkeeper Joe Kennaway signed for Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic in 1931 and was an immediate success. Toronto Scottish won a North American club championship in 1933 by beating holders and US champions St. Louis Stix at Chicago's Soldier Field by a score of 2-1.
In July 1946, the Dominion of Canada Football Association held reorganizational meetings in Winnipeg, MB. On July 24, 1948, the Association again became a member of FIFA. On June 6, 1952, the Association officially changed its name to the Football Association of Canada.
In 1957, Canada entered qualifying for the FIFA World Cup for the first time and met the United States and Mexico in qualifying for the finals in Sweden in 1958. Canada won its first World Cup qualifying game 5-1 against the U.S. in Toronto, but played Mexico twice in Mexico City and lost 2-0 and 3-0. In the final group game, Canada beat the U.S. 3-2 in St. Louis, but group winners Mexico advanced to the Finals.
In 1958, the Association again changed its name, this time to the Canadian Soccer Football Association. It would change its name one more time in 1971, at that time becoming the Canadian Soccer Association.
During the 1960s there was a concerted effort to push professional soccer in Canada. The Eastern Canada Professional Soccer League was formed in 1961 and featured teams in Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, and (for one season) Buffalo, New York. One club, Toronto City, even featured some very prominent British soccer stars during its inaugural season, including Northern Ireland international Danny Blanchflower, England internationals Stanley Matthews and Johnny Haynes and Scottish internationals Jackie Mudie and Tommy Younger. This is also notable as the last time that the England, Scotland and Northern Ireland captains all played on the same side together. Despite this, the league proved unsuccessful and folded within 5 years. In western Canada, in 1963 a regional league, the Western Canada Soccer League was formed and consisted of between four and ten teams that by 1971, when it folded, was semi-professional and included teams from Winnipeg to Victoria in two divisions and included several national team players. Following a rise in the popularity of the game after the global broadcasting of the 1966 World Cup, the North American Soccer League was formed in 1968. The league primarily based in the United States also had clubs in Canada and used many European professionals brought in to supplement domestic talent. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Canada was represented by professional teams playing in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver with short-lived teams in Calgary and Edmonton. The NASL had a stormy relationship with FIFA and the USSF and their clubs did not compete in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. The league folded prior to the 1985 season.
The Olympic Summer Games were held in Montreal in 1976, but the soccer tournament featured only 13 teams instead of the normal 16 after the African nations boycotted the games in protest against South Africa's apartheid policies. Canada opened against the Soviet Union in the Olympic Stadium, losing 2-1. Canada lost its second game in Toronto against North Korea and was eliminated from the tournament. The same year, Toronto Metros-Croatia won the Soccer Bowl, the North American Soccer League championship. The final was held in Seattle, where the Toronto side defeated Minnesota 3-0 with a squad featuring Eusébio, striker Ivan Lukacevic, Canadian defender Robert Iarusci and goaltender Zeljko Bilecki. Vancouver Whitecaps won the 1979 Soccer Bowl, beating Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 in the final at Giants Stadium in New Jersey.
In 1983, Toronto Blizzard reached the final at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver but lost 2-0 to the Tulsa Roughnecks. Also in 1983 the Canadian Professional Soccer League played one shortened season after two years of aborted attempts to find enough clubs to play. Canada also lost the bid to host the 1986 World Cup in 1983 when Mexico was awarded the World Cup. Canada qualified for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics soccer tournament played throughout the United States. In the first round, they drew with Iraq, lost to Yugoslavia and beat Cameroon to qualify for the quarter finals. After taking an early lead against Brazil, Canada were defeated on penalty kicks.
The 1985 CONCACAF Championship was the fourth edition that doubled as qualification for the FIFA World Cup. Canada secured qualification for the 1986 World Cup after beating Honduras 2-1 in St John's, Newfoundland on September 14, 1985 at King George V Parkin front of over 13,000 people. Canada had bid to host the final tournament, but their application was rejected in favour of Mexico, who qualified automatically as hosts, with Canada earning the remaining CONCACAF spot and winning the CONCACAF Championship (now the Gold Cup) for the first time. At the World Cup, Canada were drawn in group C and lost 1-0 to France and 2-0 to both Hungary and the Soviet Union.
Also in 1986, four Canadian national team players were guilty of taking bribes in a match-fixing scandal at the Merlion Cup in Singapore. The Canadian Soccer Association suspended Chris Cheuden, Hector Marinaro, David Norman and Igor Vrablic for one year each. Marinaro and Norman were reinstated and resumed play for Canada. In the wake of Canada's World Cup appearance, the Canadian Soccer League began operations in 1987, and in 1989 the Canadian Soccer Referees' Association was founded.
The NASL was replaced by the Canadian Soccer League with teams in eight Canadian cities. The Vancouver 86ers won the 1990 North American Club Championship, beating Maryland Bays 3-2 in the final in Burnaby, British Columbia. The same year, Canada's national side took part in the North American Nations Cup (formerly the NAFC Championship) for the first time, hosting the three-team tournament. Mexico and Canada sent their full squads, but the USA sent a 'B' team and does not count the games as official internationals in its records (CONCACAF lists the North American Nations Cup 1990 on their website). Canada won the tournament after a 1-0 win over the United States on May 6 and a 2-1 win over Mexico on May 13, all three goals scored by John Catliff, the tournament's top scorer. In 1991, Canada took part in the championship for the second time as defending champions. Mexico won the North American Nations Cup 1991 with Canada finishing in third place.
After the 1992 season, the CSL was forced to end operations with Vancouver 86ers and Montreal Impact joining the United States' APSL. In January 1993, the Toronto Blizzard also joined the APSL. The Winnipeg Fury, not meeting U.S.S.F. Division 1 market size standards, and North York Rockets joined the National Soccer League, which changed its name to the Canadian National Soccer League in 1993.
The Canadian women's national team benefited from a surge in youth participation throughout the 1980s, and in 1995 Canada qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time. Canada lost to England and Norway and drew with Nigeria at the tournament played in Sweden. Canada again qualified for FIFA Women's World Cup 1999 played in the United States, again going winless after drawing with Japan and losing to Norway and Russia.
In 2000, Canada's men's team won the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup in February. Canada had finished in a tie in group play with the Republic of Korea, but won the tie-breaking coin toss to advance to the quarter-final, where they beat Mexico 2-1 on an extra-time golden goal. In the semi-final, Canada beat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0, and beat invited side Colombia 2-0 in the final. As a result of being named CONCACAF champions, Canada travelled to the Confederations Cup 2001 in Japan, earning a memorable 0-0 draw with Brazil thanks to a stellar performance from Gold Cup Most Valuable Player Craig Forrest.
At the next Gold Cup in 2002, Canada reached the semi-final for the second time and lost to the United States on penalty kicks. Despite their success in the Gold Cup, Canada's senior men's side failed to qualify for either the 2002, 2006 or 2010 World Cup. The national team has never achieved a higher position than 40th in the FIFA World Rankings.
Also in 2002, Canada hosted the first ever FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship with games in Edmonton, Victoria, and Vancouver. The final between Canada and the United States was played at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, with the U.S. winning on a golden goal. Canadian Christine Sinclair received the tournament's Golden Ball as MVP and Golden Boot as leading goal-scorer. Rounding out 2002, Canada's senior women's team, with several players from the U-19 squad, met the United States in the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup final, where the U.S. won on yet another golden goal. Still later that year, Sinclair led the U.S. NCAA Division I in goals scored as she helped the University of Portland win the national championship.
The senior women's side again qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2003. In the group stages they lost to Germany before beating Japan and Argentina for their first wins in World Cup history (men or women). In the quarter-finals, Canada upset China 1-0 before losing to Sweden in the semifinal. They were again beat by old rivals the U.S. in the 3rd place game. The under-19 women's side qualified for the 2004 world championship in Thailand, losing in the quarterfinals to China. For the second straight tournament, a Canadian won the Golden Boot, with Brittany Timko the top-scorer. Sinclair set an NCAA Division I record in 2005 with 39 goals as she led Portland to another NCAA title and earned a second straight Hermann Trophy. In the wake of her record-setting season at Portland, Sinclair won the Honda-Broderick Cup in 2006 as the outstanding female athlete at a U.S. university. Also in 2006, long-serving CSA Chief Operating Officer Kevan Pipe was fired from his duties. The CPSL re-branded as the Canadian Soccer League.
In 2007, Toronto FC began play in Major League Soccer as its first franchise located outside the United States. Canada's national team reached the semi-final at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Dale Mitchell was named coach of Canada's senior men's team, to begin duties after the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, held in Canada. The host went out without scoring a goal and losing all three matches. The final was held in front of 20,000 people at the National Soccer Stadium in Toronto, with Argentina beating the Czech Republic 2-1. Association President Colin Linford resigned after his pick for chief executive officer, Fred Nykamp, was turned down by the board of directors. In September, Canada participated in the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007. In October, Vice-President Dr. Dominic Maestracci assumed Linford's duties as chairman of the board.
Beyond Canada's last-place finish, the tournament itself was a huge success. Led by National Event Director Peter Montopoli, the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 drew a tournament-record 1.2-million fans, was viewed by 469.5-million global television viewers, and generated $259-million in economic impact.
A new Canadian Soccer Association stepped forward in 2008. Of note, Peter Montopoli was hired as the General Secretary, Stephen Hart was hired as the Technical Director and Dr. Dominic Maestracci was voted President. In May, the Association inaugurated the Nutrilite Canadian Championship with the help of Canada's three top professional clubs - Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Impact won the inaugural season and qualified for the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League season. In women's soccer, Canada qualified for the Women's Olympic Football Tournament for the first time in Association history. The team came within an extra-time goal of knocking off number-one ranked USA in the quarter-final. At the youth level, Canada won its second CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship.
In men's soccer, Canada drew more than 10,000 fans to four senior men's games for the first time in Association history. Unfortunately, Canada could not advance beyond the so-called CONCACAF Group of Death, a group that featured higher-ranked nations Mexico and Honduras.
As in other English-speaking nations outside the United Kingdom, association football has been traditionally overshadowed by a rival code of the game with explicitly local roots. As in Australia, where Australian Rules Football took hold; and Ireland, where Gaelic Football is played; while in New Zealand rugby holds greater popularity;Canadian football usurped Association Football. In 1869, the founding of Hamilton Football Club, who played what would become Canadian football, helped make that sport the dominant football code in Canada by the dawn of the twentieth century.
Despite the difference in popularity of their respective professional leagues, association football overtook ice hockey in the 1980s and 1990s as the sport with the most registered players in the country. In 2008, there were 873,032 footballers, compared to 584,679 registered hockey players in Canada in 2008-09.
The following is a list of professional teams in Canada currently playing in Division 1 or Division 2:
|Professional teams in Div 1 and Div 2|
|Team||League||Stadium (capacity)||Joined||Head Coach|
|Toronto FC||Major League Soccer||BMO Field (21,860)||2007||Greg Vanney|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Major League Soccer||BC Place (54,320)||2011||Carl Robinson|
|Montreal Impact||Major League Soccer||Saputo Stadium (20,520)||2012||Frank Klopas|
|FC Edmonton||North American Soccer League||Clarke Stadium (5,000)||2011||Colin Miller|
|Ottawa Fury||North American Soccer League||TD Place Stadium (24,000)||2014||Marc Dos Santos|
Major League Soccer
Toronto FC became the first Canadian club in Major League Soccer in 2007, joining the highest level of professional soccer in the United States and Canada. An MLS franchise was awarded to Vancouver in 2009 and began play in the 2011 season. An MLS franchise was awarded to Montreal in 2010 and began play in the 2012 season. Both the Vancouver and Montreal clubs were long-time organizations that had played in lower divisions.
NASL/United Soccer Leagues
The second tier in the United States and Canada is the North American Soccer League, which features the Canadian clubs FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury FC; and three Canadian clubs in the third tier USL Pro: Whitecaps FC 2, Toronto FC II, and FC Montreal.
There are eight Canadian teams in the fourth tier USL Premier Development League: the Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23, and Victoria Highlanders in British Columbia; WSA Winnipeg in Manitoba; and Forest City London, K-W United FC, Thunder Bay Chill, and the Toronto Lynx in Ontario.
Canadian Soccer League
|This section requires expansion. (March 2014)|
In May 2009, the southern Ontario based league was granted conditional approval by the Canadian Soccer Association as Canada's national Tier III pro soccer league. The CSL has spoken often of an objective of expansion to Western Canada. MLS teams, Toronto FC and Montreal Impact both had their academy clubs playing in the CSL. Toronto had the TFC Academy, in the First Division, and TFC Academy II in the Reserve Division. While Montreal had the Impact Academy in the First Division. The League's most recent clubs are Kingston FC, Niagara United, and SC Waterloo Region which joined the CSL in 2012, all moving up from the CSL Reserve Division.
Canadian soccer cup competitions
- Amway Canadian Championship (fully pro teams from MLS and NASL)
- The Challenge Trophy (amateur men's nationals)
- The Jubilee Trophy (amateur women's nationals)
- Victoria Challenge Cup (USL-PDL teams from Ontario)
Many of the provincially sanctioned amateur leagues have league cup competitions. Some such as the ones in British Columbia have significant history.
- Vancouver Island Soccer League - Sir John Jackson Cup first contested 1914
- Fraser Valley Soccer League - Packenham Cup first contested 1909
- Vancouver Metro Soccer League - Imperial Cup first contested 1913
- British Columbia Provincial Soccer Championship - Province Cup (formerly McBride Shield and BCFA Challenge Cup) first contested 1892
- Pacific Coast Soccer League - Cambridge Cup
- Pacific Coast Soccer League - John F. Kennedy Cup (between top amateur teams in BC, Washington State, and Oregon)
The Canadian national soccer team has appeared in two senior FIFA tournaments, the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico and the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup in Japan. The women's senior national team has appeared in seven senior FIFA tournaments, five FIFA Women's World Cups and two Women's Olympic Football Tournaments. There is also a recently formed Québec national soccer team which represents the province of Québec and the French Canadian population in non-FIFA tournaments.
- Canadian soccer pyramid
- Canada men's national soccer team
- Canada women's national soccer team
- Québec national soccer team
- Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum
- List of soccer clubs in Canada
- Soccer on Canadian Television
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- CanadaSoccer.com Official Site of the Canadian Soccer Association
- CSA with a list of its Hall of Fame inductees
- Regional Canadian Soccer Leagues: An overview of the history of professional soccer leagues and clubs in Canada
- cbc.ca profile of soccer in Canada
- Canadian Soccer Forum: List of Canadian Players Abroad