Did you catch the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team’s 7-0 win over Panama on Oct. 14? The one that guaranteed them qualification to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup?
How about their 2-0 loss to their rivals, the United States, in the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship final three days later?
If you live in Canada, the answer is probably “no.”
Despite the importance of those games, no Canadian media organization broadcast the matches. Fans were left searching for a link to follow the game, and they made sure their annoyances were heard online.
“The #CANWNT is going to play the #USWNT tomorrow for the Concacaf championship and no one is showing it in Canada,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Imagine being forced to watch a World Cup Qualifying Final between these two teams on a computer screen,” wrote another.
It’s not as though Canadian broadcasters had a choice. The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) is very strict with broadcasting rights. Most fans had to watch the games through oz.com, an online streaming service that’s offering a free trial until Dec. 1. American viewers were able to catch the game on FOX Sports, but only because the tournament was held in the U.S.
Broadcasters are doing everything they can to cover the women’s team’s games. In 2016, CBC broadcast all six of Canada WNT’s Olympic games, and both TSN and CTV will air the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
But there is work to be done. Online coverage of the women’s team has been lacklustre compared to the men’s team. Leading up to the men’s team’s October game against Dominica, the official account for Canada Soccer enthusiastically tweeted constant reminders about the match, sometimes multiple times a day.
By contrast, fans of the women’s team got few reminders about their games. What was tweeted was often sandwiched between tweets about the men’s team.
It got to the point where Christine Sinclair called out the account. She quote-tweeted one of the tweets for the men’s game with “Hey @CanadaSoccerEN when do the women start their World Cup qualification tournament?”
If the captain of our women’s team and the greatest player this nation has ever produced is calling out the disproportionate amount of coverage the women’s team gets compared to the men’s, then there is certainly a problem.
Although broadcasters are doing their part to get more coverage of the women’s team, it’s clear that players and fans alike don’t think the women’s team’s games are being pushed out to a wider audience.
With the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup group stage draw set to take place in December and the tournament kicking off in June, we need to make sure the women’s team gets the coverage they deserve. They are, after all, our most successful national soccer team.