Last night the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) announced that all of Canada’s forthcoming World Cup Qualifiers and friendly matches would be played in Toronto at BMO Stadium. The reason given was that this was where the players wanted to play and it would cut down on travel time. Now, given in the past Canadian players have been forced to beg for support from their countrymen and women when playing in Toronto, it does seem slightly strange they would want to continue playing solely in Toronto without at least exploring other options.
It would appear, at least for the time being, Toronto’s BMO stadium is where the Canadian Men’s National Team will be calling home. If this is the case, then the CSA should officially declare BMO as the nation stadium as is the case in the UK where Wembley, Hampden Park, Millennium Stadium and Windsor Park host each national teams home games. The problem with doing this is due to the size of Canada there is a big risk of turning the national team into a Toronto team. Very few Canadians outside of Ontario would ever get the chance to see the team play.
Having the team play out of one place may have its advantages in allowing the team to feel at home playing in a familiar location every game, but whether or not it would be good for building the popularity of the sport in Canada in highly questionable. If the CSA wants young kids to grow up and dream of playing for Canada (and not, England…or Bosnia), then these kids need to be able to see their hero’s play live and not just on television. The long term growth of the game needs to be the CSA’s main target, and World Cup qualification is a big part of that, but so is encouraging the next generation of supporters and players