In Tokyo, the women’s national soccer team was able to change the color of the medal after London and Rio, a feat that stretched from coast to coast. Behind this almost unexpected success lies the fact that other countries are getting better, which sooner or later will catch up with the Canadian program.
Canada is the only country in Top 10 In the FIFA Women’s Ranking it has neither a league nor a professional team, which has been largely ignored by the country’s French-speaking media. There are certainly “semi-pro” federations in Quebec, Ontario and soon British Columbia, but that’s it.
Kristen Sinclair and Stephanie Labbe, among others, have emphasized this on several forums: This victory is In spite of Lack of a professional league, and this absence may affect performance in the long run. Diana Matheson recently retired, and she got involved in the professional file, which is also important for the International Football Association (FIFA).
The Canadian women’s elite usually goes abroad, since their college years. Female soccer players with professional potential often continue in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States, and more and more of our players are moving to Europe. Labbé, Leon, Lawrence, Huitema, Fleming, Beckie, Buchanan, Gilles and Rose play across the Atlantic, often in France or England.
However, there is a limit to foreign players in these tournaments: three in France and four in the NWSL, for example. This limit could, in the long run, reduce the growth of the pool of players that can be selected for the national team, while elsewhere, this pool is growing, driven by women’s leagues.
Many say a women’s national championship will be of little importance. It is possible, but you have to start somewhere. Women’s professional football in the United States and Europe demonstrated the importance of “build it and they will come”.
Sports business experts not only see the huge economic potential of women’s soccer, the facts indicate it. Portland Thorns (NWSL) has an average of 20,000 people per game. BBC and Sky Sports will invest more than C$17 million per season to broadcast matches in the Women’s Premier League. DAZN will now broadcast all Champions League matches on YouTube, which is a turning point for international women’s sport.
In Canada, nearly 4.5 million people watched our soccer players win the gold medal. There were also more fans in the stands for the women’s national team match in Ottawa than for the men’s team match in Montreal.
There are 11 men’s professional teams in Canada, three in the US MLS Championship (including CF Montreal) and eight in the Canadian Premier League since 2019. These clubs have been instrumental in improving the national team. Masculine, she herself is in the best position ever. The foundations for founding a Canadian women’s team or league exist, but it requires the will of Canadian football and existing clubs, but above all it requires the will of potential investors.
Hopefully this gold medal will stop young girls’ tendency to quit football (more than 25% have stopped playing in the past five years), but it will also launch the momentum towards professionalism in Canada. Our country needs to support our heroes and create a system that gives hope to hundreds of young girls, while increasing the potential and pool of players, which will go a long way in maintaining the performance of our women’s national team.
* Matthew Botín is enrolled in the Executive MBA program in Sports Management at the Universidad Europea de Madrid
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