FIFA failures and Olympic triumph mark an erratic track record for Canadian soccer
One of Canada’s most recognized comedians, Russell Peters, has an interesting take on Canada’s participation, or lack thereof, in the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup. Peters claims that Canada’s absence in the famous global competition is obvious: “It’s a world event. We don’t get involved in world events.” He satirically explains that Canada looks to the U.S. to see if they are going. If in fact they are, Canada then tells the U.S. to go ahead without them and that we will stay behind to tidy up.
Although Peters’ perceptive comments are made to serve a stand-up comedy routine, there may be an underlying truth behind his sarcastic connotations regarding Canada’s soccer scene.
Canada was first admitted to the International Federation of Football Associations in 1912. Forty-five years later, in 1957, Canada got its first taste of victory when it defeated the USA 5-1 in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The triumph was short-lived, however, as Canada was unable to further qualify for acceptance into the actual tournament.
Since then, Canada has only qualified for the World Cup once: in the1986 tournament held in Mexico. Despite qualifying, Canada lost three games upon arrival and left the global event without scoring a single goal. There have been attempts since Canada’s brief participation in soccer’s most elusive competition; however, the efforts of various Canadian players have come up short.
Although optimism was once the norm among buoyant Canadian fans who were hopeful for Canada’s participation in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, their enthusiasm was quickly supplanted with disappointment after Canada was eliminated in October 2012.
Despite the perpetual wallflower status that Canadian fans seem to succumb to every four years when the World Cup rolls around, the Summer Olympics make global recognition a feasible goal for the soccer players and fans spread throughout the nation.
Last year at the summer games in London, the women’s soccer team made history when they defeated France in the bronze medal game. Transcending their sport on a global level, the women athletes led their country to glory when they became the first Canadian team to win a medal in a traditional team sport since 1936.
As frenetic soccer fans danced and cheered back at the home front, the women’s Olympic team was able to achieve something in Canadian soccer that many believed was not possible: win a medal and make a global mark.
Despite Canada’s erratic track record in the World Cup and Summer Olympics, the sport is still appreciated and supported among soccer players and fans throughout the country.
According to the Canadian Soccer Association, soccer is considered the fastest-growing sport nationwide. The current number of registered Canadian soccer members is an astonishing 850,000. With 1,500 clubs scattered across 13 provinces and territories, the CSA estimates that the number of registered soccer players will increase to 1 million over the next two to three years.
Many opportunities are available for local residents who are interested in getting involved in Ottawa’s soccer community. Whether you want to register your child for a summer league, assist in coaching a team, or volunteer for a local organization, there are 14 soccer organizations in Ottawa located throughout the city.
Although Canadian comedians poke fun at Canada’s attempt to qualify for the World Cup, the recent success of the women’s Olympic team proves that global recognition is a viable goal to strive for. Soccer’s excellent reputation for creating national unity and bringing people together in the community is appreciated among Canadians – so much so that players and fans nationwide keep the sport’s popularity alive through their involvement in the local clubs.
For more information about local soccer organizations in Ottawa or to contact a club for registration inquires, visit www.ottawa.ca/en/residents/parks-and-recreation/partners-and-community-organizations/soccer