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You can hardly compare the Stanley Cup (a yearly club competition) to the World Cup (a quadrennial event involving national teams).

A more apt comparison would be the 2002 Olympic Hockey gold medal match in Canada vs. the 2006 WC final in Italy. In each case, it is each respective nation winning the most-respected quadrennial tournament in their dominant sport.

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The total of TSN and RDS was 4.3 million for the entire game and up to 9.3 million at the peak. Those are huge numbers. The highest rated Cdn soccer game ever was less than 1 million and that was considered a ratings miracle by Sportsnet. So the highest rated program EVER on TSN gets a 'hardly a nation held transfixed'. I think you either have a blatant bias, are incredibly numb-skulled (or both) or are trying to take the piss. I'm out.

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Think whatever you want. The 9.3 million number clearly includes all the people who were channel surfing past TSN during the broadcast so your 30% statistic was bogus. If people can't even make the effort to watch a game from start to finish they are not following it fanatically it they are just following the score casually while doing other things. At no point did I try to compare soccer's popularity in Canada to hockey. I was comparing it to what goes on in other countries and I've experienced both first hand.

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I remember well the parties that took place in the streets of Vancouver after Canada won the gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Also, expect some enormous numbers if Canada does well at the 2010 Olympics, especially since it is being held in Canada.

Canada is a Hockey Nation, and I love it when our National team(s) do well and give us something to cheer about. But I spend more money travelling to watch our National soccer teams than I do our ice hockey teams, because I love soccer and ardently support our National teams. I love both.

By the way, when I played minor hockey there were quite a few players that were visible minorities, like myself. And today when I play drop-in or whatever with my friends, it is basically all asians! I like to follow Japanese Canadian players too, like Kariya, Sunohara and (especially this year) Setoguchi!

The Canucks' drafting of local kid Prab Rai is also a great story.

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quote:Originally posted by BringBackTheBlizzard

So at most about 10% of the population watched the final all the way through and 90% did not. Hardly a nation held transfixed. Rangers had 200,000 fans in Manchester for the UEFA cup final a few months back, which is about 4% of Scotland's population. I don't see anything like the same devotion to hockey in Canada that there was for soccer in Scotland when I was growing up. That's not necessarily a bad thing, incidentally.

Glasgow to Manchester is roughly a 5-6 hour drive, so I don't really see how they're comparable. You can fly anywhere in Europe for almost nothing via Ryanair from Stanstead, where Glasgow flies 4 times a day. Transportation in Canada is more than a little different. I can fly to London from Toronto for the same price as Vancouver.

And I agree, it's not a necessarily a bad thing, those Neds nearly destroyed half of downtown Manchester.

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quote:A more apt comparison would be the 2002 Olympic Hockey gold medal match in Canada vs. the 2006 WC final in Italy. In each case, it is each respective nation winning the most-respected quadrennial tournament in their dominant sport.

If my memory is correct, CBC got 10.3 million for Canada/US 02 Olympics final. And I'll assume 1 million more on Radio-Canada. So, ~36% of the nation watched (based on 2002 pop of 31.4m).

Italian WC 06 final match rating is listed as almost 24m while 2002 population was close to 57m - 42% of the nation watched.

WC 06 Euro country ratings are listed at


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quote:Originally posted by red card

If my memory is correct, CBC got 10.3 million for Canada/US 02 Olympics final. And I'll assume 1 million more on Radio-Canada. So, ~36% of the nation watched (based on 2002 pop of 31.4m).

Italian WC 06 final match rating is listed as almost 24m while 2002 population was close to 57m - 42% of the nation watched.

WC 06 Euro country ratings are listed at


Does this information take into account people watching the games at friend's houses or bars? A big game like either of those I doubt many people would watch alone.

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Is it also a case of average audience for Europe vs. total tuning in at some point for Canada? When a big world cup game is on over in Europe the streets are empty and people are glued to the screen. I was in Rome when the Germany vs. Italy semi-final happened, for what it's worth, and got invited in to the local provincial HQ when the guards outside learned I was from Canada and was looking for a place to watch the game and watched it on a massive screen with local political dignitaries and their families in the courtyard of the building. I would never question that a lot of people in Canada follow hockey I just don't think the same emotional intensity level is there and as stated before that's not necessarily a bad thing. Netherlands vs Serbia is listed as having an 89.4% market share in the Netherlands, for example, for a game in the opening stages. It would be even higher for a final involving the Netherlands especially if Germany were the opponents. That is what I have in mind by an entire nation held transfixed.


Wim van Hanegem (Holland midfielder): "I didn't give a damn about the score. 1-0 was enough, as long as we could humiliate them. I don't like them. It's because of World War Two. They murdered 80% of my family. My father, my sister, two of my brothers. Each time I faced Germany I was angst-filled."

Ruud Gullit (Holland forward): "We gave joy to the older generation. I saw their emotions, their tears. I could never even have guessed that this could be so tremendously important to them."

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Indoor soccer making strides CBC web site:

As minor hockey faces a lull in registration, another winter sport is on the rise

Registration for indoor soccer in Ontario has more than doubled since 2004. (Kevin Light/CBC Sports)

For B.K. Mitchell, a single mother of three who works part-time, choosing indoor soccer for her kids was a no-brainer. It only cost her $90 to register each child.

“It was close to home, so it was convenient, and the price was really, really cheap,” she said.

Mitchell’s kids are registered in Scarborough’s Just for Kicks soccer club.

While cost is one of many factors, the Mitchell family is one of thousands across the country choosing soccer over other sports. In fact, soccer is the No. 1 participatory sport in the nation, according to a recent study by Statistics Canada.

A 2007 Canadian Soccer Association report shows 867,869 players registered across the country. (The 2008 report is due at the end of January).

That's nearly 310,000 more registered outdoor players than in minor hockey.

While the CSA figure reflects outdoor soccer participation, most provincial organizations say their numbers for the indoor game are growing.

The trend flies in the face of minor hockey’s participation rates.

In Ontario, for instance, indoor soccer registration has more than doubled in the past four years, from 40,000 players in 2004 to 86,300 this year, said Guy Bradbury, chief executive officer of the Ontario Soccer Association.

That’s an increase of 46,300 players.

In that same time period, the Ontario Hockey Federation grew by only 5,839 players— from 209,978 to 215,817.

There isn’t any hard data to link the lack of growth in hockey to a rise in soccer. But sport experts and parents across the country say soccer is often more appealing to many because it’s less expensive.

They also say a rise in Canada’s immigrant population, an increase in indoor facilities and greater media coverage of the sport are leading a growing number of kids to play the world’s most popular game.

Making the game affordable

Brian Rife, vice-president of operations with Scarborough’s Just for Kicks, says registration costs are a major concern for many families.

Just for Kicks caters to those with lower incomes. While some families pay $125 per player for an indoor season, others pay much less — or nothing at all.

“It depends on the financial situation of each family,” Rife said. “If they come in and show us their welfare card, we’ll set up some kind of budget or give them free access to the program.”

Once players are registered, there are no additional costs.

Indoor soccer fees with other organizations can cost more than the Just for Kicks program. In major cities in Saskatchewan, for instance, it can reach $175. And at more competitive levels, it can cost hundreds or thousands more if year-round training and tournament travel is involved.

Hockey parents who have been known to pay $10,000 a season would jump for joy at numbers like that.

“There's no question hockey is an expensive sport," said Glen McCurdie, senior director of member services for Hockey Canada.

Unlike hockey, indoor soccer doesn't require expensive equipment. (Kevin Light/CBC Sports)

Cultural factors

The cost of registration in sport, especially in these economic times, is obviously an issue.

Many immigrants are often less financially well-off and more likely to choose soccer because it’s affordable, said Hamid Ait Zenou, a settlement co-ordinator with the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area in New Brunswick.

But they also choose soccer because it’s part of their culture, he added.

The 2006 Census shows that one in five Canadians (19.8 per cent) were born outside the country. The report also indicates Ontario as the province of choice for more than half of newcomers, at 52 per cent.

Hockey Canada recognizes it hasn't done a good job of attracting new Canadians to the sport. Last year, it launched a project in select Canadian cities that allowed children of immigrant families to play a season of hockey for just $50.

While many players signed up, Hockey Canada could only offer the reduced rate for one season, and many families couldn't afford to register their kids for a second year.

In contrast, the Just for Kicks program can offer families the same affordable rates year after year.

"We have an awful lot of repeat business," said Rife.

‘Cleaner’ than hockey

David McNeil, an English professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, teaches a course on hockey literature. He said another reason soccer is a preferred sport is because it’s seen as less violent.

“Soccer is a wonderful sport. It’s great exercise, it has all those positive benefits and it’s perceived, too, as cleaner than hockey. It doesn’t have such direct physical contact,” he said.

George Athanasiou, executive director of Soccer Nova Scotia, who was born in Greece, agrees.

“I’m most turned off [of hockey] because of cost and roughness…. As a parent, my kid wouldn’t play hockey because of the violence going on,” he said, adding that television coverage doesn’t help hockey’s negative image.

If you build it, they will come

Registration in indoor soccer has been rising steadily in Nova Scotia, Athanasiou said. It's in part because the province is building more indoor facilities.

In recent years, two new facilities were built in Halifax, plus three more in other cities, and that's just the beginning.

Other provinces also say increased participation goes hand-in-hand with the construction of new indoor fields.

For instance, the Greater Toronto Area has seen the addition of 30 new indoor soccer facilities in the last three years, said Bradbury, adding more have been planned. This number includes both private and public centres.

One of those new facilities is in Scarborough – where an entire hockey arena was converted into a two-pitch indoor soccer facility – the Scarborough Soccer Centre.

In Saskatchewan, seven new indoor soccer facilities have sprung up. The province has seen 300-400 more indoor soccer players each year for the past five years, with registration now totaling 10,000 players.

“It’s encouraging to see,” said Kev Sumner, communication co-ordinator with the Saskatchewan Soccer Association. “You go to a facility at six o’clock and it’s full until 11 o’clock.”

Still, Sumner, who came to Canada from England in 2007, said, “It’s hockey that gets the blood going in Canada,” he said. “That’s what people can relate to.”

Growing passion

While many Canadians would agree with Sumner, Hector Vergara, executive director of the Manitoba Soccer Association, said Canada’s enthusiasm for the game is growing.

New Canadians and people from soccer-crazed cultures bring a new passion to the sport, he said, and such passion is “rubbing off” on white, Canadian-born families.

“We have an extremely diverse population, and a lot of them bring that desire to play soccer, not only because their parents played it, but because it’s a passion in their country,” he said.

The growing presence of new Canadians has also brought an improved quality of soccer, Vergara said, which also attracts new players.

A sport for all seasons

Soccer is more attractive to play in Canada because it’s become a year-round sport, he added.

“It’s no longer just for summer or to keep in shape for hockey, which was the mentality when I was growing up,” he said. “Now, [kids] are finding they like it in summer and want to carry it into the winter indoor program.”

Doug Redmond, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, which has also seen an increased demand for indoor soccer, said greater media attention has helped raise interest in the sport.

“Some of it has to do with hosting the U-20 World Cup two years ago. The sport’s had greater exposure on TV and radio,” he said.

Vergara also noted the popularity of North America’s Major League Soccer, which showcases talent from soccer-rich nations, like England’s David Beckham.

He noted that extensive World Cup coverage, soccer-related video games and 24-hour reporting of soccer through various technologies are also elevating Canadians’ interest in the game.

All of these factors combined, he says, are having an impact.

“It takes a bit to get hooked on those things, and there it goes,” he said.

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Great article. There is no denying the sport has momentum in Canada. As an adult player (035) I know getting indoor time is getting as bad as hockey. Our practice time is Friday nights between 9PM and 11PM.

Having said that - I play both sports and so does my 7 year old. It makes for busy (and expensive) parenting.

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