JONES: It’s time for Canadian soccer to take its next epic step on Sunday

While a success against Jamaica would be a big occasion fully accredited in Canadian sports history, many have also lost what has already happened to get to Sunday’s game.

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One more win or even a tie on Sunday against Jamaica in Toronto and Canadian men’s soccer will never be the same.

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When Canada beat Costa Rica and Mexico back-to-back in front of near-full crowds of nearly 50,000 in mid-November at Commonwealth Stadium in minus 10C temperatures and snow banks on the sidelines , it was said to be the time and place this nation officially became a footballing nation.

On Sunday in Toronto, the Canadian XI are set to seal the deal for the first time in 36 years that Canada will qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and a significant percentage of the population have little idea what is really stake.

First, let’s talk about dollars.

Each of the 32 teams that qualify for Qatar 2022 will immediately receive US$2 million to prepare for the tournament. A few days later, each qualifying nation will receive an additional $10 million to participate in the group stage.

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The more each team progresses in the tournament, the more money they receive. The winning nation receives $50 million, second place $40 million, third place $30 million, fourth place $25 million, quarter-finalists $16 million and round of 16 teams $12 million .

Some of those dollars will rightly be distributed to players, but there will be plenty of money to be used to grow the game in every nation, including those who don’t win a game or score a goal, like Such was the case with Canada in our only other appearance at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

While Sunday would be a fully accredited grand occasion in Canadian sports history, many also lost what has already happened to come to this day.

Let’s talk TV numbers.

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This marvelous scene in Edmonton of Canadian players plunging into the snowbanks to celebrate the victory over Mexico drew 1.153 million viewers on Sportsnet after Alphonso Davies’ first game of the return which drew 713,000 spectators against Costa Rica.

The final leg of qualifying drew just 273,000 for the openers against Honduras in Toronto with subsequent games against the United States away (393,000), at home against El Salvador (184,000), at the away to Mexico (158,000), away to Jamaica (186,000) and home to Panama (342,000) leading to Costa Rica and Mexico games in Edmonton.

TV numbers took off from there with an average viewership of 627,000 in Honduras, 973,000 against the United States in Hamilton and 936,000 for Canada’s first loss, 1-0, in Costa Rica on Thursday.

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If these numbers, as collected and provided by Adam Seaborn, a recommended Twitter tracker for sports television viewership numbers, don’t mean much to you, consider Thursday’s other games on Canadian sports television.

The San Jose Sharks-Edmonton Oilers game on Sportsnet drew 244,000 and the Vancouver Canucks Minnesota Wild game drew 235,000.

That 1.153 million against Mexico that night in Edmonton was definitely the defining moment. But it will be interesting to see Jamaica’s number in Canada on Sunday in front of a full crowd at BMO Field in Toronto.

Sunday should definitely be a juicy day in Canadian soccer simply because of location, location, location.

As a sports columnist who covered not only Canada’s only previous World Cup appearance in Mexico City in 1986, but subsequent World Cups in Japan-Korea, France and Germany for Sun Media, I Told by legendary Toronto Sun sportswriter George Gross to focus on Toronto sports. home team. Gross informed me early on that there were more Italians in Toronto than anywhere in the world outside of Italy.

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Are Toronto and the rest of this nation ready to understand a FIFA World Cup in which Canada is present and Italy is absent?

The Italians were rebounded by North Macedonia.

I once wrote that Canada ranks there with Lower Slobovia. Apparently we now rank up there with North Macedonia, although they still need to go through Portugal to get in.

Suddenly, the old Canadian futbol traditionalists who considered Canadian men’s soccer unworthy will be forced by their offspring to embrace the new world team.

With a win or a tie against Jamaica or the help of another result in the CONCACAF tournament, Canadians can look forward to the April 1 draw for Qatar in a pool with three other qualifying teams that include up to ‘now defending champion France, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Germany, Iran, Japan, Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland and Uruguay.

And in four years, thanks in part to Edmonton teenager Phonzie Davies’ speech at the 2026 World Cup bid in Moscow in support of the Canada-USA-Mexico bid, we’ll have a team that will come back play in the event with farewell to the host nation.

There are many people in this country who never dreamed of one day being able to experience this day. Many are young footballers now able to believe it could happen to them.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @byterryjones

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