Soccer’s Popularity Growth In Canada

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At first you might think the professional soccer league in the United States, the MLS, doesn’t have teams from Canada in it. But there’s actually three: Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. And Toronto was just in the final of the MLS Cup and Montreal was in the semi-final. Both now top teams that will certainly be considered potential winners of the 2017 MLS Cup final.

Plus, all three Canadian soccer teams were in the top ten for fan attendance during the last Major League Soccer season. Toronto was in fourth place with an average of 26,583 fans per game and a season total of 451,917. The Vancouver Whitecaps were in sixth place with an average of 22,330 fans per game and a season total of 379,603 for the year. And the Montreal Impact had an average of 20,669 fans per game with a season total of 351,366.

But what’s also growing in popularity along with professional soccer is the sports betting industry in Canada, which could be bringing in even more massive revenues for the government, but laws place many restrictions on both online and general sports wagering.

One thing that makes wagering on sports in Canada a bit different than the rest of the world is the fact that bettors cannot place single bets. What is called a parlay is the norm, where bettors must choose two or more selections. The provincial wagering circles are in general not as large as ones outside of Canada, so the variety is not as wide and there not nearly as many options.

Fortunately for those in Canada looking to partake in the sporting industry, they can via offshore sites – or at least stands in a sort of legal gray area. Old laws from the 1960s were written regarding the illegal activity of being found in an illegal betting house, but due to the nature of these online sites, the connection is tenuous enough that no one has ever come close to being convicted for taking part.

Daily fantasy sports, on the other hand, are entirely unregulated. In daily fantasy sports (DFS), participants draft a team of real-life sports players, and their team is pitted against those of others. The sports players’ actual stats are used to determine to the winners. Since money is being put on the line, many consider fantasy sports basically the same as a wager, but the Canadian government has yet to step in and say anything on the matter, and the chances of them doing so remain slim.

Originally called Association Football, soccer got started in Canada in the 1870s. The very first game of soccer in Canada was played in Toronto, Ontario, in 1876, and a year later the Dominion Football Association popped up. The original national soccer organization, the Dominion Football Association did not last very long, nor did it play much of a part in the popularization of soccer in Canada. In 1880, the much more successful Western Football Association was put together in what is now Kitchener, championed by none other than sport legend David Forsyth.

Canada’s first international game of soccer took place in 1888, and the Ontario Association Football League was formed three years later, once again with David Forsyth at the helm. Canada’s soccer organization that currently prevails, the Dominion of Canada Football Association (now called the Canadian Soccer Association), was formed in 1912. The National Soccer League arose in the mid-1920s and lasted until the 1990s.

Through two world wars and more, Canadian soccer has survived, and flourished – trends say it will continue to do so, helped along by the growing sporting industry.

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