During my tenure as President, I have had the privilege to continue the momentum established this past decade to ensure that the foundation for Canada Soccer Nation would be further strengthened. Although this Annual Report reflects on the year of 2019, it is that solid footing that has guided us through an unprecedented time in not only our sport but our world. During my tenure as President, I have had the privilege to continue the momentum established this past decade to ensure that the foundation for Canada Soccer Nation would be further strengthened. Although this Annual Report reflects on the year of 2019, it is that solid footing that has guided us through an unprecedented time in not only our sport but our world.
When I reflect on what I will remember most fondly about my three years as President of Canada Soccer, it all comes down to one thing: the people. It is the people within the Canadian soccer community who have banded together to ensure that our players, coaches, officials, volunteers, fans and their families are safe and will return to the pitch and the sidelines when they are secure.
It’s about the team this organization has assembled over the last 10 years who, collectively, have brought us to where we are today – the proud co-hosts, with Mexico and the United States, of the 2026 FIFA World Cup™. We are a country to which other FIFA nations now see as a leader in the soccer world.
It’s about Peter Montopoli, who as General Secretary brought necessary professionalism to the organization that laid the foundation for all the successes that followed. It’s about my predecessor and now Concacaf President, Victor Montagliani, who believed in—and advanced—our dream of hosting a men’s FIFA World Cup™ on Canadian soil for the first time. It’s about John Herdman, who revamped the women’s program, taking our Women’s National Team to back-to-back bronze medals at the Olympic Games and a place among the top countries in the world. Then, last fall, as Head Coach of the Men’s National Team—oversaw Canada’s first win over USA in 34 years. We would not be where we are right now without the entire Canada Soccer team. That team is not just the individuals who are involved at the national level but those who work and volunteer tirelessly at our Member Associations, professional level clubs and leagues, and across all the hundreds of districts and thousands of clubs.
As part of our decade in review, Canada Soccer compiled a list of 30 big moments in Canadian Soccer from the last 10 years. In the same spirit, I wanted to share a few of the moments that stand out for me during my time as President. Earlier this year, I was in Edinburg, Texas and watched Christine Sinclair—our Player of the Decade and one of the best athletes in the world—tie, and then break, the world’s all-time international goalscoring record. Christine has been such an integral part of our soccer family, and a wonderful advocate for the sport. Just being around that moment was amazing.
I was also thrilled to witness Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team win 2:0 over USA at BMO Field. After 34 years, that October 2019 win was really special.
Nothing, however, that I have ever experienced—barring the day of my wedding and the births of my three sons—can possibly compare to that June day in Moscow in 2018 when our United 2026 Bid won the right to host the FIFA World Cup™. Looking back at the pictures and video, I’m smiling so big my face looks like it could break. A lot of people didn’t think it was going to happen, that it was a dream, but that dream is a reality now. It was a watershed moment, the culmination of years of hard work and proving our country’s mettle as a tier-one FIFA host. 2026 may seem like it is far away but our Canada Soccer Nation now has the responsibility and privilege to ensure that the next six years deliver on our promises of unity, certainty and opportunity for not only our country but the entire football world.
Given where Canada Soccer was a little over 10 years ago, it is amazing what we have accomplished as an organization. It’s taken a lot of passion, a lot of commitment, and a lot of sleepless nights, but it’s been an awesome achievement and a privilege to be a part of Canada Soccer Nation. Thank you.
Entering this new decade, our reflections on the accomplishments of the past decade may seem insignificant given the incredible challenges our country and the world are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, now more than ever, the strength of those achievements has positioned Canada Soccer to play an even more important role to unite and celebrate all that is good about our country and the world’s game. How do you measure the impact of a single decade? Ten years might not seem like a long time when you consider that Canada Soccer, as an organization, has been around for more than 100 years, but in order to assess just how far we’ve come since 2010, you have to remember where we started.
Going into this past decade, we had limited international success on and off the pitch. There were no Canadian leagues and Canada’s single Major League Soccer (MLS) team, Toronto FC, was still in its infancy. With our successful hosting of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 still fresh, we were starting to look ahead to a bolder, brighter future. We knew that woven deep into the fabric of Canada lay the heart and soul of a soccer nation. Canadians didn’t know it at the time, but in a few short years, riding a wave of #CanadaRED, this sport would change the country forever.
Now, when Canada is at the international table, we are looked on with great respect. We have won back-to-back bronze medals at the Olympic Games—the only FIFA member to accomplish that in the women’s game from 2012 to 2016. Our Women’s National Team have become the standard bearers for women in sport in this country. We now have three robust Major League Soccer clubs and a domestic men’s league with eight Canadian Premier League clubs from coast to coast that are an important piece of the development puzzle for the Men’s National Team Program. Nike—the world’s biggest sporting-goods brand—is our apparel sponsor. In October 2019, our Men’s National Team defeated USA for the first time since 1985, which when combined with Men’s National Youth Team victories over Costa Rica at the U-17 level and Mexico at the U-15 level, saw Canada defeat the top three nations in Concacaf in the same year for the first time.
Then, there are the events we have brought to Canadians. It’s impossible to overstate the role that hosting has played in our success. The FIFA U20 World Cup Canada 2007 led to the building of what would become BMO Field, which, in turn, brought us MLS’ first Canadian team, Toronto FC. We followed that up by bidding for and hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, which still holds the record for the largest attendance at a FIFA event outside of a men’s FIFA World Cup™.
In 2018, with our partners Mexico and the United States, we were awarded the ultimate soccer prize—hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup™. The 2026 FIFA World Cup™ is a transformational event that will leave a strong legacy for many generations to come. We are confident that Canada is on the path to becoming a formidable country in men’s international football and we will get the next six years right – and the solid foundation we’ve put in place over the last decade has set us up to achieve that goal. The 2026 FIFA World Cup™ will be a multi-national, multi-generational event that will arguably represent the entire country in a way no other sport can. We are using football to show the world who we really are.
In the past decade, I have had the privilege to serve with three excellent Presidents: Dominic Maestracci, Victor Montagliani, and Steven Reed. I accord a great deal of credit to all of them. I would also like to personally thank two long-serving staff members who retired in 2019: Dorothy Hickey, as Competitions Manager, and Ray Clark, as Master Coach Developer, who both helped make this organization what it is today. I am very fortunate that I have had the honour to wake up every day and put the Canadian flag around my shoulders. A safe return to the pitch for all levels of the game is the light at the end of tunnel for many given what the world is now experiencing. Canada Soccer Nation will be ready and proud to play a role to bring Canadians and the world back together.
Canada Soccer outlines return to soccer guidelines. The return to soccer guidelines provide member organizations with a five-step process, including a checklist of weighted questions known as the Return to Soccer Assessment Tool.