The Canadian Premier League is due to have its inaugural season in 2019, and it’s an exciting time for Canadian football fans: with 7 announced clubs (and more on the way), Canada will have a professional domestic football league aiming to give Canadian players minutes on the pitch and nurture young talent to help Canada perform on the national stage.
With FIFA 18 having brought a strong spotlight on Major League Soccer (and thus, North America) with the likes of 3D player scans for MLS players and Alex Hunter hopping across the pond to Los Angeles in The Journey, fans could be forgiven for hoping that the Canadian Premier League might one day be included in the franchise as well.
We spoke with FIFA 19 Creative Director Matt Prior about the chances of the Canadian Premier League being added as a playable league in the future based on its projected level of professionalism and outreach. While the longtime Electronic Arts producer wouldn’t confirm either way, he certainly didn’t rule it out:
Ideally, we would love to bring in every league in the world, but obviously there’s financials, time limitations, licensing limitations. There’s a lot of things that factor in. Time and resources aren’t infinite, so we kind of have to pick our battles and a lot of that is where the popular leagues come in. Ultimately, if it takes off, it’s absolutely something we could look at at some point, though I can’t speak to the specifics of right now.
Prior’s words speak a harsh and absolute truth: The FIFA series is without a doubt most authentic football game out there, with this year’s iteration of the franchise scoring a big win over Pro Evolution Soccer by nabbing back the Champions League license after many years without it. Endeavors like this require serious bankroll, and that means items that are licensed need to be wanted by fans – and lots of them. The same can be said for the Fortnite dances EA Sports wants to include in the FIFA series. For now, the Canadian Premier League may not have the backing to warrant this – though that could be subject to change as the league grows and builds a following.
Given that the CPL has yet to have its first kickoff, it shouldn’t be surprising that Prior and the rest of the studio have reservations about backing its digital inclusion. That being said, he was very optimistic about the growing market in North America in general, and recognized how the millions of gamers within those borders can drive some serious sales:
I think MLS is a good indication of the broadened appeal of football. It’s growing in the States. I actually think FIFA as a game is part of the reason it does grow. You speak to people in North America and say FIFA and it’s us they connect with rather than the governing body. I think the success of our game has helped grow the sport globally, but particularly in North America. We’re always looking for opportunities to engage with that market. We know it’s a big, important market.
For now, Canadian Premier League fans will have to wait and see how many fans attend and tune in to the league’s inaugural season in the first place, and can take solace in the fact that it’s at least on EA’s radar. Depending on how many people catch interest in the Canadian Premier League, Matt Prior could be talking about it once more sooner rather than later.
FIFA 19 will release for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox 360, and Xbox One this September 28, 2018.
You can find John on Twitter at @Makelevi for much more footy talk. Maybe too much.