What’s Next for Soccer Brands in Canada
As athletes and leagues in Canada reap the benefits of the rising success of Canada Soccer, it is important to also consider how the brand of Canada Soccer has changed from what it was before. The Canadian Men’s National Team (CanMNT) has historically been an afterthought in the mind of most Canadian football fans, who typically pay more attention to the games on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The national program was never a priority for the country’s top talent, and even current star forward Jonathan David went into the sport-focused solely on playing in Europe.
Playing in Europe is still more desirable than playing domestically in North America, and most of the men’s team stars (David, Alphonso Davies, Cyle Larin) all play in Europe for domestic teams across the continent. However, these same stars are leading the way for the Maple Leaf, and the potential off the field is even greater than the potential on the field.
As the Canada Soccer brand grows in popularity on a global level, the partnership opportunities are bound to grow with it. Current partnership deals with Toyota, Powerade, and Allstate, amongst others, are likely to be renewed for much more than originally signed (or replaced by a higher bidder).
For brands looking to capitalize on the hype, it might be too late. Investments have been made in domestic leagues in the country as competitors make an effort to tap into the growing audience. Competition in the automotive industry has taken off, with Volkswagen being a primary partner of the Canadian Premier League - surely to rival Toyota’s presence as Canada Soccer’s partner.
Chris, AJ, and I (Hiral) discussed on the pod, and as they mentioned in their pieces - the biggest winner in this entire scenario is the ecosystem. The athletes, the fans, the leagues, the youth players, they all feed into the growth of the game. Sponsors and brands take notice, and begin to invest in the youth game to create brand loyalty - AJ touches on this with a personal example of Puma and their Puma King Academy program.
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The Canadian men’s national team has not participated in the FIFA World Cup since 1986, and generations of soccer fans in this country, many of whom are the children of immigrants (or immigrants themselves) have never witnessed the Maple Leaf take to the pitch against the world’s best on the pitch. In 2022, the men’s national team has an opportunity to change that. The impact of a world cup berth in the lead-up to co-hosting the 2026 World Cup will be a ripple effect for Canada Soccer that cannot be understated. Only time will tell if the dream comes true, but millions of Canadians (along with billions of dollars) will hold their breath in wait.
Published: November 19, 2021 - Issue 14 of The Sport Marketeer