Soccer most popular sport in Canada, Dr. Bontis tells Media in Toronto
CSA President Underlies Commitment To Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
Soccer is the most popular sport in Canada, which has one million registered players in that sport, Dr. Nick Bontis, President of the Canadian Soccer Association, said on Tuesday, noting that there are no other sports that can boast that number.
Speaking to MediainToronto, after the huge success achieved by Team Canada and the Canadian Soccer Association in steadily approaching the World Cup in Qatar later this year, Dr. Bontis said “I’m happy because all Canadians are happy and you can see the buzz, the momentum, especially in the last couple of days with that game against the USA and Hamilton in my hometown, where the atmosphere was electric. 12,000 people in the stands seemed like 100,000 people, so it’s exciting for me. It’s exciting for our organization.”
He also noted that the success is not only for men but also for women as Team Canada is Olympic gold medal champions.
“We’re creating momentum, the men’s side, and the women’s side. So, I think this is great, especially given the context right now where we are technically still in a pandemic and the lockdowns over the last two years have had hurt our grassroots soccer at the base of the pyramid.”
“And even though the top of the pyramid is doing extremely well, we need to get back to the base of the pyramid.”
He underlined that Coach John Herdman has a very clear and detailed technical plan once Canada confirmed as a qualifier to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Canada has qualified for just one FIFA men’s World Cup in the nation’s history, but that could change ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Les Rouges are leading the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying by four points with four matches remaining, and there is a real possibility that Canada could qualify for its first World Cup since 1986
Canada will have to wait until March to clinch a World Cup berth after Panama’s win in Matchday 10, but it could potentially secure a top-four finish on Wednesday with a win at El Salvador and a Costa Rica loss or draw on the same day. That would have Canada mathematically clear of four other teams — at least 11 points clear with only a maximum of nine available points left for chasing teams — before the final three matches are played in March.
“Through the summer and fall months, obviously, we will have scheduled some friendly matches and we will also participate in the CONCACAF Nations League and you know, the planning for Qatar will start immediately after the draw is held. So the FIFA World Cup draw will be immediately after the window was completed at the end of March and early April,” Dr. Bontis said.
Regarding the preparations for the joint host of the 2026 World Cup with the USA and Mexico, he said that the 2026 World Cup bid included two stadiums BMO field in Toronto, as well as Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
“FIFA investigators came to Toronto and Edmonton in November a couple of months ago to assess and to hear presentations from those groups. I attended those presentations, in my opinion, they were world-class presentations. Obviously, I’m biased being from Canada. Canada will be sharing the hosting duties with the US and Mexico so ultimately its FIFA tournament. So it’s the FIFA investigators that will choose and make recommendations to the FIFA board as to which cities will host so I’m confident of our performance and obviously would love for both Toronto and Edmonton to host the World Cup matches in 2026,” he said. “And in addition to Toronto and a lot of cities across Canada will be able to benefit from the 2026 World Cup for example. You could have even Hamilton or Ottawa, Montreal or any of the other cities that have infrastructure could host not a World Cup match, but you could host a country to stay and train in your stadium and in your city.”
He said the new start plan for 2022 to 2026 will be launched any day now, pointing out that there will be “lots of objectives, promoting and supporting men’s and women’s national teams will always stay top of mind.”
Bontis emphasized the need to take actions at the grassroots level, and to maintain a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion when it comes to the recruitment of coaches, referees and, also even representation at the administrative and at the board level to protect the diversity that Canada’s so famous for.