And it’s great news for the CANWNT, NWSL, and Liga MX Femenil
Many people are surprised to learn that Canada doesn’t have a professional women’s soccer league. The team is currently ranked sixth in FIFA’s women’s world rankings, has won a gold medal, and is currently the only nation ranked in FIFA’s top 20 that doesn’t offer its national team players the opportunity to play at home.
After Diana Matheson and Christine Sinclair helped Canada capture bronze at the 2012 Olympics—Matheson scored the medal-clinching goal—Sinclair expected progress. She expected Canada Soccer to invest in a women’s league. After all, the team had just ended Canada’s 108-year podium drought in women’s soccer.
“I really thought that 2012 was going to be a turning point for this country in bringing professional soccer home,” Sinclair said in an interview with CBC. “But it never happened. And there’s still no pathways within this country.”
And so, exactly a decade after making Canadian soccer history, Sinclair and Matheson decided to do it again—this time, by announcing the creation of Canada’s first-ever women’s professional soccer league.
The still-unnamed league, which has been organized by Project 8, will reportedly have eight teams across the country, with Calgary and Vancouver being the first cities confirmed. Vancouver hosted the finals of the 2015 World Cup. The league is set to kick off in 2025, two years after the World Cup and one year after the Olympics.
In an interview with TSN, Matheson said the new league would offer a minimum wage that is competitive with that of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the US and allow each franchise to offer a ‘designated player’ salary to ensure at least one member of Canada’s national team is on their roster.
Although some may think that the launch of a new women’s soccer league is bad for the growth of the NWSL, the opposite is true. Women’s soccer is currently the fastest-growing sport industry in the world. After the success of Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC, the NWSL already has several cities in the United States fighting to have teams of their own.
What the Canadian league offers is a chance for NWSL teams to compete in a continental women’s club championship. In March 2021, a source told the Inquirer that Concacaf is planning to launch a continental women’s club Champions League in the next few years.
Club women’s soccer in Europe is exploding in popularity, led by marquee brand names in England, France, Germany, and Spain. Now, with the launch of another domestic women’s soccer league, the CONCACAF region is one step closer to being able to replicate some of the glory of the European Champions League.
While it may seem like an ambitious task to take on, Sinclair and Matheson are not afraid of the challenge that lies ahead of them. “The whole idea behind this is to aim high. And like, if you’re not, what’s the point?”