Can Soccer Become Canada’s Most Popular Sport?

Hockey is probably the first sport you think of when you think of Canada. As you already know, Canadians are hockey-crazy, so it shouldn’t surprise you that it is Canada’s most beloved sport. But what about other world-class sports? Namely, there is a growing interest in soccer in this country. So, the question is — can soccer overtake hockey as the most popular Canadian sport?

There are plenty of reasons for the current spike in soccer’s popularity. Although the men’s national soccer team has not shown remarkable results in the last few decades, the women’s national team is currently ranked 7th in the world. Also, Canadian clubs are making a significant impact in Major League Soccer (MLS).

As a consequence, sports betting in Canada is on the rise according to Doug Hirdle from the betting.ca website. That means more people are turning to soccer betting, looking for the best soccer betting sites out there. Such behaviour only adds to soccer’s popularity in Canada, attracting more interest from infrequent observers.

With that in mind, let’s dive deeper to find out what it would take for soccer to become Canada’s most popular sport.

Demographics Are Changing

Canada has one of the world’s highest immigration rates, representing itself as a diverse and economically stable country. Because of that, many immigrants are proud to call Canada their home, changing the country’s outlook along the way. That includes sports as well.

Hockey and lacrosse aside, soccer is becoming one of the country’s top sports thanks to immigrants. Playing, watching, and betting on soccer evokes positive memories from back home, leading to a multinational interest in soccer. With Canada’s demographics changing, so are the people’s interests.

Number One Sport

This might surprise you, but soccer has overtaken hockey as the sport with the highest participation numbers in Canada. Interestingly, this dethroning happened in the ‘80s and ‘90s when Canada registered more amateur soccer players than hockey players. The current situation isn’t much different as there are hundreds of thousands more soccer players than hockey players.

One of the main reasons for that is recreational play. People typically opt for soccer because it’s much easier to access. Even children under the age of 18 are more likely to play soccer than any other sport in Canada, with an astounding 44% of them choosing soccer as their favourite activity. That means amateur soccer is a common sight in Canada, with many available soccer fields and minor leagues people can join.

Even a slight interest in soccer can lead to significant changes. Now, you can see more pubs streaming important Canadian soccer matches, as well as international games. With such regard to soccer, it’s not surprising that avid Canadian bettors have started to turn to soccer betting.

Canadian Success Stories

As we’ve mentioned, Canada’s men’s national soccer team hasn’t had any significant success stories in the past, and they’re currently ranked 87th in the world. On the other hand, the women’s national team is one of the world’s most influential teams. Thanks to them, Canadians are getting more interested in soccer. They even have two Olympic bronze medals under their belt — from 2012 and 2016.

Furthermore, Canada will serve as one of the three hosts for the FIFA World Cup in 2026, alongside the USA and Mexico. This is a big undertaking for Canada, especially as it should earn its national team a place in the best 48 due to the country’s host status.

When talking about soccer within Canada’s borders, there are a couple of worthy clubs we should mention. Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia are three of the most intense soccer provinces in Canada. Their respective teams have shown excellent results in the past in the MLS.

The most successful Canadian club is Toronto FC, which has won nine Canadian Championships and was runner-up in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2018, as well as MLS in 2016 and 2019.

Montreal Impact or CF Montreal has had some terrific results being the first Canadian club and the second MLS club to advance to the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. The club has also won the Canadian Championship three times.

Ultimately, it might take a few more years before soccer overtakes hockey as Canada’s most prominent sport, but its growing popularity is indisputable.