The Canadian Premier League (CPL or CanPL; French: Première ligue canadienne) is a professional men's soccer league in Canada. At the top of the Canadian soccer league system, it is the country's primary national soccer league competition. The league consists of eight teams, from five of Canada's ten provinces. Each team plays 28 games in the regular season which is followed by playoffs culminating in the CPL Finals.

The CPL champion and regular season winner earn berths in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, competing against teams from across North America, Central America and the Caribbean for a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup. All CPL teams also play in the Canadian Championship, alongside Canadian clubs from other leagues. Qualification for the CONCACAF Champions Cup is also available to CPL clubs by winning the Canadian Championship.

The league was officially sanctioned by the Canadian Soccer Association on May 6, 2017, and has played an annual season since 2019. The league's focus is to improve national soccer talent and the sport in Canada, with several rules in place to ensure this. These include a minimum quota of Canadian players on team rosters and starting line-ups, requirements for domestic under-21 players, and a Canadian university draft.

The CPL's first season included seven teams, while an eighth, Atlético Ottawa, joined for the second season in 2020. Vancouver FC debuted in 2023, while FC Edmonton folded before the start of that season. The CPL is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario.


York United players celebrate a goal by Álvaro Rivero against HFX Wanderers during a game in September 2021.

Since the closure of the original Canadian Soccer League in 1992, there was no fully professional first division domestic league of Canadian soccer. The only national Canadian competition was the Canadian Championship, a domestic cup which has been played since 2008. Canadian teams played in American leagues, such as Major League Soccer, NASL and the USL Championship, while the L1O and PLSQ were created as provincial-level leagues. A new version of the Canadian Soccer League was briefly sanctioned as a third-division semi-pro league by the CSA from 2010 to 2013, losing the sanction after the CSA board of directors adopted a new soccer structure in Canada.

A new fully professional Canadian soccer league was first publicly reported in June 2013. The reports suggested that Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young was part of a core group of investors working with the Canadian Soccer Association and its president Victor Montagliani to create a new set of fully professional teams or a league in Canada. The Tiger-Cats ownership group was granted exclusive rights by the Canadian Soccer Association until 2017 to establish a team that would play in the under-construction Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.

In February 2016, reports of the league emerged again when Young spoke to Hamilton City Council requesting permission to erect an air-dome over the Tim Hortons Field playing surface between December 1 and April 30 yearly to allow for year-round training for a professional soccer team owned by the Tiger-Cats that would call the stadium home. During questions by the elected council members, it was revealed that the name of the league would be the Canadian Premier League and that the Hamilton team was expected to be the flagship franchise. Further details were expected following the Canadian Soccer Association's annual meeting in May 2016. Reports in June 2016 indicated that the Canadian Premier League would avoid current Major League Soccer markets.

On November 14, the first official employee of the Canadian Premier League was announced. Paul Beirne, a Canadian who was also the first employee of Toronto FC, was hired as project manager for the new league. On May 6, 2017, the creation of the league was unanimously approved and sanctioned by the Canadian Soccer Association. Ownership groups in Winnipeg and Hamilton were also approved. On May 5 2018, the Canadian Soccer Association accepted club memberships for Halifax, York Region, Calgary, and "Port City" (later confirmed to be based in Greater Victoria, rather than Surrey as speculated).

The unveiling of the first team, York9 FC, took place on May 10. This was followed by Calgary-based Cavalry FC on May 17, 2018, Halifax's HFX Wanderers FC on May 25, Valour FC in Winnipeg on June 6, and the rebranded former NASL side FC Edmonton on June 8. After a break from announcements to accommodate the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Hamilton's Forge FC was next unveiled on July 12, followed by Pacific FC of Langford in Greater Victoria on July 20.

On August 27, 2018, the CPL announced that it would hold a series of open tryouts in eight cities across Canada for players age 16 and older. The tryouts were led by Alex Bunbury and took place in front of CPL coaching staff from all teams. On September 28, 2018, Italian sportswear company Macron was announced as the official apparel supplier of the CPL. Macron supplies training gear and custom made kits for each CPL team.

A match between HFX Wanderers FC and Cavalry FC during the CPL's inaugural season in 2019

Launch (2019–present)

The inaugural match of the Canadian Premier League between Forge FC and York9 FC took place at Tim Hortons Field on April 27, 2019, and resulted in a 1–1 draw. Ryan Telfer of York9 FC scored the first goal in Canadian Premier League history in the third minute of the inaugural match.

In advance of the 2019 Finals, the league's trophy was unveiled. The North Star Shield is a crystal shield engraved with the logo of the Canadian Premier League. The inaugural season finished on November 2, 2019, when Forge FC became the first Canadian Premier League Champions, defeating Cavalry FC 2–0 over two legs in the Finals. Forge midfielder Tristan Borges was named the first CPL Player of the Year.

On January 29, 2020, Atlético Ottawa was confirmed to be the first CPL expansion team, joining for the 2020 season. The 2020 season, set to start on April 11, was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 29, it was announced that the entire 2020 season would be played in Charlottetown beginning August 13. The shortened 2020 season, known as "The Island Games" ended on September 19 when Forge FC won their second Canadian Premier League title in a 2–0 victory over HFX Wanderers.

The 2021 season did not begin until June 26 due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, each team was able to play a full schedule of 28 matches. The season culminated with Pacific FC defeating Forge FC 1–0 in the 2021 Final, held in December.

On November 21, 2022, the Canadian Premier League announced that FC Edmonton would be removed from the league, effective immediately. The league commissioner cited poor on-field performance as well as low attendance and an outdated stadium as reasons for the termination. For the 2023 season, Vancouver FC from Langley, British Columbia entered the league, joining as an expansion team.