It was recently announced in the US that soccer has overtaken hockey to become the fourth most popular sport in the country – a combined effort from a growing younger audience and more broadcasting opportunities for leagues across Europe have certainly helped here and has been shown as betting sites not on Gamstop have been seeing increased traffic for wagering options on the sport too. The same hasn’t been as true in Canada though as by most accounts’ soccer is still quite low down in the rankings in terms of sports popularity – although it has been suggested it’s the fastest growing sport for the country, there’s still some way to go.
(Image from globalnews.ca)
The women’s soccer team is certainly putting in overtime here having won back to back to back medals in the past three games, with 2020 being their best result taking home gold at a time where women’s sport as a whole is gaining a lot more attention and growing on popularity too – but this alone won’t be enough to beat out some of the other huge sports in Canada that have a much larger following, and something else may be needed. Following a similar path to the US and picking up broadcasting rights for EU competition may be one step, but with matches not taking place during prime time and often with little representation for players as Canadian athletes aren’t as well represented, it may be harder for some fans to find the attachment.
With the 2026 World Cup heading to the US, Canada, and Mexico, it may be the sort of big event needed to drive some further popularity into the sport – the Olympics as noted have done a great job so far but to have the biggest international teams from all around the world competing on local soil, it’s a different ball game altogether. Broadcasting rights have already been handed out for Canadian audiences too as fans will be able to tune in through CTV, TSN, or RDS, and there will no doubt be a wider number of online streaming services that open up the possibilities too viewers who aren’t able to access these broadcasts too. Whilst it’s unlikely that soccer will close in on the top sports of Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, or Canadian Football, it may provide an opportunity for the audience of Soccer within Canada to grow, and as the sport becomes bigger may lead to players looking for options internationally and building the audience further afield too.