Canadian Women’s professional soccer league to launch in 2025

December 07, 2022
Two Canadian soccer legends announced Monday that the country’s first-ever professional women’s league will aim to begin play in April 2025, with two markets and two major sponsors already booked.
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SOURCE: STEVEN MARKHAM/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: STEVEN MARKHAM/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Soccer kits are about to be as chic as Canadian tuxedos in the Great White North. Two Canadian soccer legends announced Monday that the country’s first-ever professional women’s league will aim to begin play in April 2025, with two markets and two major sponsors already booked.

The leadership: Retired midfielder Diana Matheson is building the (currently untitled) league with her business partners at Project 8 Sports Inc., a seven-month-old commercial vehicle that’s brand new to the sports industry. CanWNT icon Christine Sinclair is also in the fold as a strategic advisor and brand ambassador.

The details: Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Calgary Foothills Soccer Club are the league’s first two teams, while Air Canada and CIBC are its founding partners. Six more teams are expected to join the startup next year for a reported entry fee of $5.9 to $7.3 million US, far more than the $150K US buy-in for the NWSL’s inaugural season in 2013.

  • The league aims to be a destination for CanWNT players and plans to offer competitive salaries to lure the 100-plus Canadian athletes currently playing professionally overseas back home.
  • It also plans to have crucial protections in place for players, something the NWSL has started to implement in response to reports of league-wide abuse by coaches.

The comparison: Canada’s new league may eventually become an NWSL challenger, but soccer is full of friendly competition as most countries host a domestic league. There’s no shortage of talent.

  • The same is true for the men’s game in North America. Despite having three Canadian teams, MLS is considered a U.S.–based league, while the Canadian Premier League (CPL) serves as the Canadian version.
  • The CPL kicked off in 2019 to develop CanMNT’s player pool and to capitalize on the 2026 men’s FIFA World Cup, co-hosted by Canada. It doesn’t compete with MLS for top regional talent, and is happy to operate that way.

Zooming out: If Canada wants to maintain its place among the elite women’s soccer countries, it needs a domestic league. Matheson and Co.'s new league is also the first genuine offering for an underserved fanbase and for markets that may not win in the NWSL’s current expansion race but are ready for pro soccer now. Cheers to that, eh?

  • The NWSL capitalized on the women’s soccer boom in the U.S. after its two predecessors folded due to operational failures, so the startup’s leaders will need to ensure it can successfully capture Canadians’ obvious appetite for the sport.
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