Last night, the Canadian Men’s National soccer team played the second leg of their 3rd round home-and-away tie at Belize. Win (which included losing 2-0) and they advanced to the important 4th round; one away from ‘The Hex’. Canada ended up advancing, playing to a 1-1 draw. However, unless you were a diehard soccer fan and were willing to go to various lengths to find a stream online, you had no idea that Canada was playing this important match. Why? Because, once again, Canadian broadcasters have shown that they do not care about promoting soccer.
To put last night into perspective, the friendly between the United States and Brazil was available on Facebook. The World Cup qualifier? An Internet stream from various websites (of various quality) from Belize ‘Channel 5’. Don’t get me wrong, Mad Bull and Maestro were certainly an interesting commentary duo. As several noted last night, references to Mad Bull and Maestro will be the inside joke between all avid Canadian soccer fans that watched the online stream. However, let’s get down to the crux of this article. THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. It is inconceivable, in my mind, that there was no Canadian broadcast for this game; from one of the national sports broadcast companies or Canadian Soccer Association. At the same time, it saddens me to reflect and realize ‘yeah, I am not surprised’.
It has long been known, and expressed multiple times on this forum and others, that Sportsnet and TSN do not care about broadcasting soccer. They will, of course, block any attempt by you to watch the game through other means (i.e., MLS Live) at the same time. Putting aside the various issues with MLS matches for a moment, I want to focus on the Voyageurs Cup. That’s right….the Canadian Championship. No, not the Ottawa versus Edmonton matches (although we can debate that too). I am talking about the final. How could you watch the first leg of the final in Canada? On Sportsnet World (if you had it). However, that is only the tip of the iceberg. The announcers were so horrendous that it made viewing the broadcast almost a joke. How much time does it take to ensure that you, at least, learn the names of the Starting XI for each team? How do you screw up, so badly, the captain of the Impact, who has a last name with French roots (you know, the official language of the country you are broadcasting in). In our technological world, it takes dedication to be able to continually say a player’s name incorrectly for more than two hours and have NO ONE correct them. Unfortunately, that same dedication cannot be ascribed to the announcers calling of the match (names aside). As some noted, by the end it was comical at how bad they were. I am now convinced that they were drunk by that point as they could not even keep the teams correct.
At the national level there are certainly major issues. However, those issues are not isolated to Canadian Soccer Association. The point, to my understanding, of having multiple channels is to have multiple feeds. Yet, you continually get Whitecaps games being delayed, so fans can watch the last 5 minutes of a blowout CFL game (ON EVERY CHANNEL). Or, worse yet, to watch a poker match. I know I am judging other broadcasts, and that is not necessarily fair. However, my comment is not necessarily about prioritizing which broadcast. I am fine with TSN keeping the CFL (or even the poker) on TSN1 until the end of the match. But, are you telling me, you cannot have the feed start on-time on TSN2, 5, or 18 (or whatever number they go to now)?
In closing, this is not even ‘just’ about the broadcasts. It is about the entire mismanagement of soccer in this country. I am not going to be as loud as Jason de Vos about the issues of Canadian soccer, but when there is no opportunity to interview the head coach of the National team, after a very disappointing Gold Cup where the team failed to score a goal and several roster decisions were questioned, there must be some serious concerns about the state of soccer in this country. It is clear that fans care, so it is not an issue of that. It appears, to me, that it is something inherently wrong with the soccer culture in this country; from a media standpoint. Thus, it becomes increasingly more apparent to me that professional soccer does not, and WILL NOT, matter in Canada.