Olivier Brett reflects on the contribution of Alphonso Davies to soccer in Canada
From a summer leisure activity, it became an emerging sport, before becoming an assumed professional sport with the arrival of MLS.
The conception of soccer in Canada has greatly evolved over the past few decades.
With the most recent successes of the women’s and men’s teams, we have reached a new milestone. Canadian soccer is now an industry.
No one embodies this new reality better than Alphonso Davies.
You don’t turn a donkey into a racehorse. Everything starts with quality on the pitch.
John Herdman may be an exceptional coach, but he needed credible raw material to build and sell his lift the nation. In that sense, Davies opened up a whole new universe of possibility.
First by his transfer to Bayern in 2019, but above all because of the important role he has fulfilled in Munich since.
Davies put an end to the snobbery that hovered over the men’s program. How can you turn your nose up at a team led by a European Champion and four-time German champion?
In the process, he paved the way for Jonathan David, Tajon Buchanan, Cyle Larin and co. who had the right to believe in their ability to reach the highest level, despite the presence of a maple leaf in their bio.
A cake to share
Players take care of the ball and managers take care of business.
That’s how Canada Soccer operated before Davies’ meteoric rise and subsequent qualification for Qatar. To say the balance of power has shifted would be an understatement.
If the players’ strike in June were not a good enough example, the most recent agreement between Canada Soccer and its star player should do the trick.
Davies became the first player (male and female) to be awarded a percentage of the sales of jerseys bearing his name. This agreement also prohibits Canada Soccer from associating its image with companies with which it does not itself have a partnership.
Sooner or later, the others will follow.
Let’s hope that the doors opened by Alphonso Davies allow the next Christine Sinclair to have her fair share of the cake too.
Question of standards
The hatching of the ex-Whitecaps, and all the perks that come with it, have set new standards.
From the field to the Canada Soccer offices, through the supplier and the partners, everyone is now asked to justify their value and deliver the goods (sometimes literally).
All of this obviously threatens the status quo and is uncomfortable for many. Never in history have Canadian players had such high value or such significant bargaining leverage.
Imagine when Jonathan David will be at Manchester United or Chelsea and the World Cup will be played at home in 2026…
Players are no longer content to participate in the Canadian project. They propel it and now want to be rewarded in proportion to their contribution.
Since they sold the exclusive exploitation rights of their national teams to Canadian Soccer Business for a pittance, this new reality places the leaders of Canada Soccer in a more than precarious position.
For better or for worse, naivety is quietly swept away from the maple leaf ecosystem. Ironically, it is with a contagious smile that Alphonso Davies will have led this transition which raises eyebrows for many.