Multiculturalism and investment are rediscovering football in Canada

A total of 7.6 million people in Canada are immigrants. It represents about 20% of the country’s total population, so that one in five Canadian residents comes from other countries, of which India, China, the Philippines and Nigeria stand out in the top ten (according to Statista). Eritrea.

These numbers make Canada the eighth country in the world in terms of the largest number of immigrants, and in the Americas is only surpassed by the United States (48.2 million). What appears to be a simple statistical question is actually a factor that is changing Canadian sport and cultural history, especially on the soccer field.

“Being a multicultural country, with more and more immigrants from all over the world and football being the most popular sport in the world, has made families come with children who pass on their passion for football and seek to introduce themselves to playing opportunities. This benefits Canada a lot because the DNA of all It is a very interesting social phenomenon,” Alex Mejia, an MBA and Football Manager who has lived for three years, describes to El Economista in Canada.

The world’s talents are reflected in the ranks of the men’s team: Alfonso Davies, the highest number, was born in Ghana and until the age of 17 was held Liberian citizenship by his parents, but at that time he was recognized as a Canadian for wearing. Over a decade living in Edmonton. In the summer of 2020, he became the first Canadian footballer to win the Champions League with Bayern Munich.

Another similar case is Sam Adekogbe, born in London to Nigerian parents. Jonathan Osorio, born in Toronto to Colombian parents; Atiba Hutchinson was born in Brampton to Trinidadian parents; So are Kyle Larrain and Lucas Cavallini, also born in Toronto of Jamaican and Argentine descent, respectively. They are all part of the current squad that will face Mexico, Jamaica and Panama in FIFA history in October.

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“Canada is a huge and very football-oriented country because of the immigrants who have arrived, from Africans, Europeans and Latinos who have helped cement the roots of Canadian football (…) In addition, Canada has invested millions of dollars in restructuring football from children to the big national team and every A province associated with the Canadian Football Association has been able to find talent,” Roger Greenolds, a sports commentator in Canada, added to this newspaper.

With the development of these and other players, Canada is seeking to qualify for the men’s World Cup for the second time, as they did so only in Mexico in 1986. Although between the late 1990s and early 2000s, they had a talented generation with elements such as Craig Forrest Jason De You and Paul Stalteri, who currently play with Davies at Bayern Munich, Laren at Besiktas (Turkey) and Jonathan David at Lille (Champions of France) are one of the reasons why more fans are choosing football in that country.

“Canada has been in trouble for decades due to a lack of different aspects: talent, structures, clubs, opportunities, fans and interest from broadcasters and sponsors, but what is happening now is due to different factors: one, that there is already a professional league that is in its third year and has sparked interest both domestically and internationally; second, That the men’s team finally has a competitive team with players in important teams in Europe; third, increased interest because the country will organize the 2026 World Cup; and fourth, for the women’s team achievements, in the Olympic Games, winning the bronze medal in London 2012 and Rio 2016, as well as the gold medal In Tokyo 2020,” evaluates Mejia, who was also a volunteer at the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup.

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The current generation of men have already made history by qualifying for the final round of CONCACAF qualifiers, something they have not achieved since the 1998 hexagonal in France; Heading to Qatar 2022, it ranks second as the best octagonal team after three matches, with five points and is only surpassed by Mexico (7).

“Everything is happening at the same time, with this new generation of not only players and teams, but also fans who are different from what they were 20 or 30 years ago. It also goes back to modern, digital and global football. It is easy to reach fans on social media. social, content on pages, and with athletes on their accounts.”

The sports business expert describes that all regions of Canada have increased their number of soccer players to contribute to teams of various categories, highlighting regions such as Ontario, Vancouver and Edmonton. According to a survey by Sports Zion, “football” is already the sixth most followed sport in the country, above rugby or basketball, and with the highest participation rate with over 2.6 million people playing it, according to FIFA figures.

Reconfigure infrastructure, programs and tournaments

Canada’s football landscape began to change between 2007 and 2010, Mejia says, thanks to its first clubs’ incursion into Major League Soccer, the top league in the United States. Since then, Toronto FC, Montreal and Vancouver Whitecaps have participated, and were the first to win the title (2017) and also the country’s first representative in the Conchachampion final (2018 runner-up).

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The development increased in 2019 when the Canadian Premier League was created, with 10 teams in which each of the owners invested about $50 million, as documented by Forbes in 2018. In this league, it competed, for example, with Atlético Ottawa, owned by Atlético de Madrid . Forge FC by Robert Young, founder of Red Hat Inc; Or York United, owned by the Greenpark Group, with Italian investments.

Media Pro owns the broadcast rights to the Canadian Premier and this has also led to the increased reach of football, as well as the development of children and teens at private academies.

In the 1990s, Canadian national team matches were broadcast on a sports channel, with baseball given priority. With the development of the Internet and other applications where people can watch streams, more sports channels have emerged in Canada and are now broadcasting national team matches live and frequently at night,” details Greenolds.

The goal of Canadian football is to have a presence in all tournaments where it can participate in both national teams and clubs, and a greater presence in youth tournaments so that clubs in Europe discover talent. The goal is to get better performance and compete with the mentality and approach against the best in the world, not just participate. Canada has learned to identify its strengths and weaknesses and, accordingly, has been able to build little by little to get to where it is at the moment and awaken interest in its people,” concludes Alex Mejia.

Amber Cross

"Music buff. Unapologetic problem solver. Organizer. Social media maven. Web nerd. Incurable reader."

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