It's not every day that a brand new sports league begins, but that is exactly what is happening today at 1:00pm EST.
That's right, Saturday, April 27 is opening day in the inaugural, or first-ever, season of the Canadian Premier League (CPL), a seven-team pro soccer league. The Hamilton's Forge FC will host York 9 FC in the first match, while tomorrow, Halifax's HFX Wanderers FC travel to Langford, B.C. to play Pacific FC. The three other teams—Calgary's Cavalry FC, Edmonton FC, and Winnipeg's Valour FC—all play their first matches throughout next week.
Which leads us to wonder: What is this new league about? And why start it now? Let's get into it!
Growing Canadian fans and players
Currently, there are three Canadian teams in Major League Soccer (MLS), North America's top pro league—Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Montreal Impact. Though these teams have all been big successes and have strong fanbases, they leave huge parts of Canada—especially the prairies and Maritimes—without a strong pro team to root for. And even though these teams have some Canadian players, they don't have to favour homegrown talent.
The CPL addresses both of these issues. From Halifax to Calgary to Winnipeg, it brings soccer clubs to brand new fanbases. And the CPL has a rule where every club must have a roster that is over 50% Canadian. AND every match, teams must start at least six Canadians of their eleven players. In short, the CPL is meant to give young Canadian players and fans a place to grow and improve their standing in the soccer world. There's a very good reason for this...
World Cup fever
In 2026, Canada is going to co-host the World Cup along with the USA and Mexico. While this means that Canada will get an automatic entry into the biggest sporting event in the world, it doesn't guarantee that its national team will be competitive.
Basically, any good soccer country in the world has its own domestic—or locally-based—pro league. These leagues ensure that as many athletes as possible get the chance to play meaningful games often and improve their skills. In the past, many Canadians went to leagues across the world—from Turkey to Sweden to Australia—to get better. Now they don't have to leave.
And while no one is expecting the CPL to reach the heights of England's Premier League or Spain's La Liga, it does have seven years to help make a difference to soccer talent and culture ahead of World Cup 2026.
Will this league stick? That's the big question. Plenty of leagues do come and go and nothing is guaranteed. But on the plus side? Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and the Canadian MLS clubs are all doing great. The matches will be shown on TVs across the country on CBC and each team is playing in a top-notch stadium.
So how hungry is Canada for soccer really? We're about to find out!