Canadian Soccer Business, Mediapro trade accusations in court filings

TORONTO — The opening blows have been delivered in a court battle that could have major implications for how Canadian soccer fans view the domestic brand of the beautiful game.

On one side is Canadian Soccer Business, whose investor group and board includes the Canadian Premier League owners. CSB looks after marketing and broadcast rights for both the CPL, which is entering his sixth season, and Canada Soccer.

On the other is Mediapro, CSB’s Barcelona-based media partner — a global entity that produces content for 16 soccer leagues worldwide.

Both sides want out of the 10-year agreement struck in 2019, saying the other failed to live up to the deal. And both want the other to pay for it.

None of their claims have been proven yet, with the ball now in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. But CSB says it has taken back its rights from Mediapro and is looking for other broadcast partners.

In a five-page notice of action, CSB alleges Mediapro has reneged on its payments and “improperly repudiated” their agreement covering media rights and production, broadcast and distribution.

In a 32-page statement of claim, Mediapro alleges CSB has not lived up to its promises, saying that halfway through the agreement CSB has delivered just over a quarter of the number of required matches (a guaranteed minimum of 2,042 CPL and Canadian Championship games by 2028).

Mediapro also says the league had promised to expand to 10 teams by 2020 and 16 teams by 2024.

“The league has remained stagnant at eight teams since 2020 and shows signs of decline rather than growth,” the statement of claim says.

“Mediapro has delivered on its bargain. CSB has materially failed to do so and provides no reasonable prospect of doing so within the agreed upon term,” it adds.

Mediapro wants damages of at least $50 million, court costs and a declaration that it was within its right to terminate the deal.

“No entity has invested more in Canadian soccer than Mediapro,” it says in its statement of claim.

“Currently, Mediapro’s investment into Canadian soccer exceeds $60 million which is a combination of capital expenditures, operation and production costs and licence fees,” it added.

In its filing, Canadian Soccer Business alleges Mediapro did not meet its requirements, including failing to deliver on a sub-licensing arrangement for linear television broadcasting that would expose its content to a greater audience via

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Business leaders say halted trade talks harm India and Canada

MONTREAL — Business leaders continue to grapple with fallout from the rift between the Canadian and Indian governments, saying the suspension of free trade talks helps no one.

Thesouringrelationship marks a major hurdle to boosting bilateral trade beyond last year’s $20.9 billion in goods and services and deters Indian students from studying in Canada, commercial groups say.

“Stopping any trade discussion or trade negotiation doesn’t make sense. How will that help us as a country?” asked Satish Thakkar, chairman of the Canada India Foundation. Canada halted trade treaty talks on Sept. 1.

“This is the biggest fall in Canada-India relations since the 1970s.”

They rapidly deteriorated after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Parliament on Sept. 18 that New Delhi may have been involved in the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh independence activist who was shot dead in June outside the gurdwara he led in Surrey, B.C.

In response, the Indian government suspended visa services for Canadian citizens — partially restored last month — and revoked diplomatic immunity from Canadian diplomats, prompting two-thirds of them to leave the country.

The trade potential between Canada and India — the world’s most populous nation and fastest growing large economy — remain largely unrealized, observers say. India remains Canada’s eighth-largest trading partner, well behind the U.S. and China.

Negotiations on the would-be Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement launched in 2010 before foundering in 2017. They resumed in 2022, with the goal of reaching a deal this year.

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada says the treaty could increase two-way trade by up to $8.8 billion by 2035 and result in a Canadian GDP gain of up to $5.9 billion. Canada’s mineral, agriculture, chemicals and wood product sectors could all see sizable export boosts.

“There is a lot of complementarity between what Canada has and India needs,” said Victor Thomas, CEO of the Canada-India Business Council. “IT services, for example — a huge growth in very specific talent that, again, complements our economy that India can provide.

Of the 32,115 international tech workers who migrated to Canada between April 2022 and March 2023, nearly half — 15,097 — came from India, a July report from the Technology Councils of North America and Canada’s Tech Network found.

“This relationship is extremely important,” Thomas said. “But businesses like predictability and stability.”

The frayed relations mean “uncertainty prevails,” sowing doubt among some Indian

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Business groups warn of trade and hiring impact as dispute with India continues

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People protest outside the Indian Consulate in Vancouver on Sept. 25.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Companies operating in Canada and India are taking a hit as the diplomatic dispute between the two countries stretches into its second month, according to business groups.

Relations between Canada and India were thrown into turmoil in September when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that India’s government was responsible for the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who advocated for an independent homeland for Sikhs.

In advance of the accusations becoming public, Ottawa cancelled a trade mission and suspended trade talks, which business groups had expected would at least produce an interim free-trade deal by the end of the year.

With no end in sight, and continued escalation – such as Canada pulling out dozens of diplomats on Thursday – community leaders say businesses are in a heightened state of uncertainty.

“Business wants clarity, stability and predictability, and those three things have not been there,” said Victor Thomas, president of the Canada India Business Council. “In many ways, we’re still trying to figure out how we navigate this new period of time.”

India has had a huge role in Canada’s economy through its diaspora, with 1.3 million Canadians reporting their ethnic origin as Indian in the 2021 census.

The trading relationship, though, has been disproportionately smaller. India is Canada’s eighth-largest trading partner, with $5.6-billion in exports in the last year, a fraction of what Canada sends to the U.S. or China. The majority of exports are from resource extraction or agriculture.

Businesses had hoped a trade deal might turn that around. In May, the two countries released a joint statement saying they hoped an initial trade deal might be signed by the end of this year, and lead to expanded investments in areas such as clean technology.

But relations turned frosty after Mr. Nijjar’s death in the summer, and the trade talks were officially postponed in September.

“It’s a very big shock and setback for the business community because this kind of episode creates a lot of uncertainty about what’s going to happen next,” said Satish Thakkar, chair of the Canada India Foundation.

Businesses have been careful about expressing concerns publicly during the tense diplomatic environment, but groups say they are hearing growing worries from their members.

Of particular concern is India’s suspension of visa services, said Matthew

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