How the CFL, NASL Rumored Venture Could Help Canada

MLS and NASL competing to the biggest player in Canadian soccer
by Henrik Lonne   |   Friday, July 18, 2014

Made in Canada - coverage of the Canadian MLS, NASL & USL Clubs, CSL, PCSL, Canadian Championship & Canada National Teams

Last week in this space, the Vancouver Whitecaps were applauded for creating more opportunities for Canadian players by setting up a USL PRO team of their own.

Shortly after even bigger news hit the internet, when Duane Rollins at Canadian Soccer News announced that the North American Soccer League, the Canadian Soccer Association and the Canadian Football League are planning a joint venture in the form of a Canadian division with the NASL with most CFL teams creating a soccer team of their own.

This would drastically increase opportunities for Canadian players and could do wonders if the clubs also plan on being serious about academies and homegrown player development.

As Rollins reports, this is also tied to Canada’s 2026 World Cup host ambitions. In part because the CFL partnership would help improve the necessary infrastructure, but also because the NASL and many CONCACAF members are close partners with the soccer marketing company Traffic – a competitor of the MLS owned Soccer United Marketing. A closer relationship with Traffic would as such help gain the votes that could help Canada win their future bid for the World C         up.

MLS might just have seen this CSA-Traffic partnership as a threat to their presence in Canada in form of their 3 teams. Because after having denied recognizing Canadians as domestic players in the league that the CSA officially recognizes as its Division 1 – MLS – Don Garber said in a Facebook Q&A that the status of Canadian players in MLS could soon change: “We are working on a new approach to our international player rules as they relate to Canada. Stay tuned.”

This competition between MLS/SUM and NASL/Traffic might just be good news for Canadian soccer as each entity fights to be the dominant one, but will have to please the CSA in order to be so. This is a game of high-stakes poker and if the CSA plays its cards right, itself and Canadian soccer could be the primary benefactor of the struggle for dominance over North America between MLS and NASL.  

Henrik LONNE

Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.