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Love Canada Soccer? Put your money where your mouth is

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With news that OneSoccer has earned the rights to Concacaf Champions League matches, the debate continues: why aren’t these games on TV?

(Twitter/OneSoccer)

The average Canadian spends more than $1,000 per year on coffee. So why do so many Canadian football fans balk at a $5 paywall?

With news that Concacaf Champions League games will now be broadcast on OneSoccer, the ‘why can’t we watch games for free?’ debate is trending on social media again.

And on the latest Waking the Red Weekly presented by Footy Talks, Michael Singh discussed the relationship between growing the game in Canada as a whole, and supporting the organizations that have stepped up to the plate of realizing that goal.

“The blame should not be on OneSoccer. I know a lot of people are like, ‘oh, OneSoccer why are we having to pay for you?’ Guys: OneSoccer is the one who’s picking everyone else up. OneSoccer is the one who stepped in when nobody else would.”

“So if you want to point your anger, frustrations or disappointment towards people, it should be towards the major media companies like TSN and Sportsnet. Because two or three years ago, when all of the broadcast rights (deals) went down and Media Pro stepped in for OneSoccer, TSN and Sportsnet had the opportunity to see what was in front of them—to see what was on the horizon in terms of the growth of Canada Soccer in this country—and you know what? They decided not to step up to the plate at that time.”

“OneSoccer swooped in, and they’ve been providing some excellent pre- and post-game coverage—excellent coverage during the broadcast as well. I honestly think that their pregame coverage has been better than TSN’s coverage of Toronto FC. So, if you’re complaining about paying a few bucks for content, consider that these are the guys you should be supporting.”

“Yes it’s a few extra bucks. But you have to peel back the curtain and realize that we need to thank our lucky stars that OneSoccer even exists right now. Because if it wasn’t for OneSoccer, where would these games be played?”

In answer to that question, Mitchell Tierney recounted the lengths that fans previously had to go to to watch the national team, from shaky single cameras to regional radio broadcasts:

“When I started watching the Canadian men’s national team, you were only going to get to watch Canada if they were playing in the Gold Cup or in a later round of World Cup Qualifiers. Otherwise you had to hope that the local broadcaster in like, St Lucia or whatever, would be picking it up.”

“I remember listening to radio feeds of games—it used to be a whole ordeal just to find a feed. Now it’s super easy. You know where it’s going to be. You know they’re going to have a dedicated show built around these games. To me, that’s what grows the game: it’s having these conversations and giving these games what they deserve in terms of treatment, versus potentially just having a game simulcast on TSN or Sportsnet.”

“And obviously, we want to get to a point where it’s a dedicated feed in TSN or Sportsnet, but right now I don’t think we’re in a bad position. I think all this hand-wringing and such doesn’t make sense to me considering where Canada Soccer’s come from in their recent past.”

For Jeffrey P. Nesker, the ‘hand-wringing is also on shaky ground because existing cable sports coverage isn’t a free service either:

“I find the question so infuriating. It’s like, ‘where can I watch this game?’ We all know where you can watch this game: you just don’t want to pay to watch the game. So ask the right question.”

“It’s not ‘where is the game?’ Likes it’s some kind of eternal mystery. There’s an answer to the question. And you know the answer to the question. So at least be honest. And then when people are saying ‘why can’t I get it for free?’ — well that’s flawed logic because it’s not free on Sportsnet and TSN.”

Soccer: CONCACAF Nations League Soccer-USA at Canada

Ultimately, supporting OneSoccer in 2021 is about supporting the growth of Canadian football in general. And that’s arguably more important than ever, considering that the country is at a unique point in its own sporting history. Canada finally has its first and only bonafide global football star, and more and more young players are on the radar of top clubs around the world:

“It’s a tragedy that Alphonso Davies, who is a global icon and worth more than probably any other North American athlete, is not being provided coverage on TV, let alone the dozens of kids that are coming through that are going to be similar to that level,” said Singh. “We need to get eyes on this Canada Soccer team—casual viewers who are scrolling through their television, and see Canada soccer on think ‘hey people are talking about this, let me see what this is all about. And then you see them defeat a team 11-0 and you realize ‘ok, this hype is real, let’s get excited, how are they going to do in their next World Cup Qualifying match?’

“It’s a few bucks—but it’s a few bucks going to people like us. OneSoccer is trying to grow the game in this country. They’re doing everything they can [...] One day, OneSoccer may even become a television network if they get enough of us supporting them. So it comes down to us supporting the beautiful game in our country.”

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