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The Voyageurs is an unofficial Canadian soccer supporters group founded in 1996, notable for their support of Canada's national teams, awarding of the annual Voyageurs Cup for men's soccer at the MLS and former USL-1 levels and influence in the Canadian soccer media.
The group's first appearance at a match came at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta, on August 30, 1996, displaying two banners at Canada's match with Panama to kick off the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. Partly created to help foster a pro-Canadian sentiment at home games traditionally dominated by away supporters, the Voyageurs developed an online presence through the work of early members like Edmonton's Reza Khalili and gained its name through a suggestion by Vancouver, British Columbia soccer fan Martin Rose. The name "The Voyageurs" was chosen partly for being bilingual and for reflecting the difficult task ahead for supporters of Canadian soccer attempting to promote the game.
One of the group's first cohesive actions was to organize a petition to attempt to convince Owen Hargreaves to play internationally for Canada. Born in Calgary to a Welsh mother and an English father, and also eligible as a British citizen born outside the United Kingdom to play for Northern Ireland or Scotland, Hargreaves had yet to play in a competitive international match and thus be bound to any of the five countries, despite turning out in a series of friendlies for Wales in 1998. He eventually chose England and went on to star at the 2006 World Cup. Early members of the Voyageurs also devoted resources to an annual Christmas card mailing to Canadian players abroad from 1998 on, a task that involved a relatively small number of players in Europe compared to the present day.
The Voyageurs made their Toronto, Ontario debut at a May 27, 2000 international friendly against Trinidad and Tobago at Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto campus on Bloor Street. They were also present at the World Cup qualifier against Mexico at the same location later that year. A British Columbia branch, the Fort Victoria Voyageurs, made an appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup qualifiers in Victoria in March 2001.
Throughout their history, the Voyageurs have supported the Canadian national team with banners, drums and chants during international matches in Toronto; Kingston, Ontario; Edmonton; Victoria; Tallinn, Estonia and a number of other venues all over the world. The group was noted for their support of host nation Canada at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup during matches in Edmonton, and were recognized with an appearance on FIFA's television magazine FIFA Futbol Mundial.
In May 2007, members of the group organized a letter of protest to the Canadian Soccer Association over their hiring procedure for the men's national team manager position and helped to publicize the Canadian Soccer Supporters United campaign to have spectators decked out in black "Sack the CSA" t-shirts at the friendly between Canada and Costa Rica at BMO Field.
From 2002 through 2007, the Voyageurs Cup, organized and funded entirely through private donations by members of the group, was awarded annually to the Canadian USL-1 (formerly the A-League) side finishing the regular season with the best record in intra-Canadian league matches. The Montreal Impact won the first six titles, with teams from Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver all competing at some point in the competition's history.
The Voyageurs have awarded the following privately organized and financed awards to Canadian national team players:
Voyageurs International Player of the Year
|2006||Atiba Hutchinson||Kevin McKenna||Dwayne De Rosario|
|2007||Julian de Guzman||Dwayne De Rosario||Pat Onstad and Lars Hirschfeld (tie)|
|2008||Tomasz Radzinski||Julian de Guzman||Ali Gerba|
|2009||Mike Klukowski||Simeon Jackson||Will Johnson|
|2010||Atiba Hutchinson||Josh Simpson||Simeon Jackson|
|2011||Dwayne De Rosario||Josh Simpson||Simeon Jackson|
|2012||Atiba Hutchinson||Olivier Occean||Patrice Bernier|
|2013||Will Johnson||Atiba Hutchinson||Jonathan Osorio|
Voyageurs Golden Shoe
|2005||17||Jason Jordan||Vancouver Whitecaps||USL-1|
|2006||27||Gabriel Pop||Serbian White Eagles||CSL|
|2007||18||Nicolas Lesage and Gabriel Pop||Trois-Rivières Attak and Serbian White Eagles||CSL|
|2008||18, 12||Daniel Nascimento and Eduardo Sebrango||Brampton Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps||CSL, USL-1|
- "Voyageurs Cup" Archived December 28, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
- "The Voyageurs History"
- "Bleacher Creatures: There are Super Fans Eh?"
- ""BC Soccer Web"". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- "Voyageurs History and Mythology Explained"
- "Why Hargreaves rejected Wales"
- "Canada's Voyageurs keep the faith"
- "Notes from the sea of black"
- "CSA Facing Lawsuit After CEO Mixup"
- "Voyageurs Cup: A brief history"
- "2008 Voyageur Golden Shoe"