Canadians descend on pubs to watch World Cup

Across the country soccer fans descended gathered to watch the World Cup on Friday

Canadian soccer fans descended on bars and restaurants across the country as a full slate of World Cup matches got underway Friday.

The international tournament that occurs every four years has long packed pubs, patios and public spaces as enthusiastic supporters wave flags, don team jerseys and cheer for their favourites.

In downtown Toronto, fans clad in the green and red of Portugal’s colours, waited in long lineups to watch the country’s team play Spain in the tournament’s first marquee matchup.

RELATED: Defending World Cup champions Germany prepared to lead Group F

Jonny Gomes, 56, stood in a 50-person-long line at Cafe Diplomatico, upset with himself that he didn’t arrive earlier. He believes Portugal will rebound from a poor showing at the 2014 World Cup where they failed to advance past the group stage.

“We can’t lose!” he yelled, prompting high fives from other supporters as horns blared from passing cars adorned with Portuguese flags.

Cafe Diplomatico has taken over a street next to the 50-year-old restaurant, with a large tent capable of accommodating another 250 patrons who can watch the game on a large screen.

Carla Rubino, 32, was a begrudging Portugal fan in the crowd. She has Italian roots, but was without a team to cheer for after Italy failed to qualify for the event.

Yet she came out to Cafe Diplomatico, which sits in the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy, to hang out with some of her Portuguese friends.

“Go Portugal,” she said with mock enthusiasm. “I hope I’m not cheering for another loser!”

In Montreal’s Little Italy, a banner strung across Saint-Laurent street read “Go everyone but Sweden,” — a bitter reminder of the qualifying loss that kept Italy out of the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

RELATED: FIFA World Cup preview: First game begins, last preview with Group H

Pennants with the same message had been passed to local merchants, but one Italian cafe owner said he wouldn’t be displaying them.

“I don’t believe in that,” said Peter Morina, an immigrant who flies an Italian flag over his door.

Instead, the patio of Uncle Pete’s cafe was strung with the flags of many nations with the expectation that most of the fans would still turn up.

Businesses across the country say they’re ready for a hectic month.

In Halifax, Chris Denham of the Niche Lounge said his establishment will be showing every game with an early happy hour planned for the afternoon matches.

“EuroCup was big … and the last World Cup was four years ago and it was bonkers,” he said.

Cameron Lafek of The London Pub in Vancouver said the time difference means they won’t be open for some early contests, but they’ll be showing all the England games and other important matches.

“It’s always big for soccer at this pub,” he said. “It’s not too hard to suck it up for a month and do those strange hours.”

Caroline Levy, general manager of the St. Augustine’s pub in the heart of Vancouver’s Little Italy said she’s also expecting big crowds for the games.

“We’re going to miss Italy, but we won’t be suffering too much,” Levy said. “We have a lot of regulars that have been loyal soccer fans for a very long time.”

No matter who’s on the screens, there’ll be a buzz in the air, she said.

“National pride is huge. It’s not aggressive at all, though,” she said. “Lots of happy tears. Some sad tears, too. It’s a really good time.”

Host Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 Thursday in the World Cup opener and earlier on Friday Uruguay beat Egypt 1-0, while Iran beat Morocco 1-0.

There are 32 teams competing in the tournament that runs through July 15.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kitchen table talk: Where change starts

Ask yourself what values you’d like others to come away with

Storm rips through Stettler

Hail pelts region

RCMP execute search warrant at Syndicate Motorcycle Club Red Deer clubhouse

Four people face charges including kidnapping, forcible confinement and drug charges

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

Belgium finishes 3rd at World Cup, beats England 2-0

France and Croatia will play in the final on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

Police arrest Indigenous pipeline protester occupying B.C. park

Led by Kanahus Manuel, the Tiny House Warriors moved into park in Clearwater last week

‘Flipping Amazing’ Pancake Breakfast welcomes 6,000 Central Albertans

Westerner Days is, unofficially, underway after Bower Place held their annual Pancake Breakfast.

MONEY MONITOR: Key steps to getting out of credit card debt

B.C. residents carry the third-highest amount of credit card debt in Canada

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Informing public about potential threats a complex matter: experts

Toronto Police did not announce they were boosting police presence until journalists began calling Thursday morning

Most Read


Weekly delivery plus unlimited digital access for $50.40 for 52 issues (must live within 95 kilometers of Stettler) Unlimited Digital Access for one year for $50.40 Prefer to have us call you? Click here and we’ll get back to you within one business day.