Some Toronto FC fans are up in arms because the club’s two Champions League games against Club Leon later this month are not being shown on TSN or Sportsnet.
Concacaf owns the rights to the Champions League and sold the broadcast rights in Canada to One Soccer, a Canadian subscription video streaming service. One Soccer is the main rights-holder of the Canadian Soccer Association, which includes the Canadian Premier League, Canadian Championship and national team matches not sold to other broadcasters.
Some fans are angry that they’ll have to subscribe to One Soccer to watch the games. But more than that, there’s resentment that such an important series involving TFC is not being shown to one of the big sports networks in Canada — especially considering that TFC is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, whose partners are Larry Tanenbaum and media outlets Rogers Communications and Bell Media, owners of Sportsnet and TSN.
It does seem rather short-sighted that the games are not being shown on TSN or Sportsnet, though One Soccer deserves credit for stepping in and securing the rights, giving fans at least the opportunity to watch the games.
TFC opens the Round-of-16 next Wednesday in Leon, Mexico, followed by its ‘home’ match on April 14 in Orlando. The Reds are forced to start the 2021 season — both the Champions League and MLS regular season — in the U.S., because of Canadian COVID-19 restrictions.
The MLS regular-season begins on April 17 with the Reds travelling to Fort Lauderdale to face host CF Montreal followed by their first ‘home’ regular-season match on April 24 against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.
In other TFC news, general manager Ali Curtis told the Toronto Sun on Thursday that after “positive conversations” with officials in Florida (the Reds are holding pre-season training in Orlando), the club hopes to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine when the team returns to Florida from Mexico at the end of next week, meaning that all the players (perhaps with the exception of anti-vax man Nick DeLeon) and staff will be vaccinated. The U.S. is ahead of Canada in terms of getting the vaccines into the arms of the public.