Canadians with ties to other nations face a tough choice of who to cheer on at the World Cup
Some British Columbia soccer fans who are first- or second-generation Canadians say they face a tough choice when it comes to who to cheer on at this year’s FIFA World Cup. year.
For the first time in 36 years, the Canadian men’s team took part in the tournament, which takes place in Qatar. The last time the team appeared was in Mexico in 1986, when Canada finished with zero goals scored and three losses in three games.
This means that Canadian fans usually find themselves cheering on another country.
This is the case of West Kelowna actor Matt Riseley Forster, who was born in England and grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne, about 30 kilometers north of Durham, the birthplace of the team coach Canada, John Herdman’s.
Forster says it’s a family tradition to cheer on England in the tournament, and that’s not changing this time around.
« We are going to win it. We bring it [the trophy] home,” he told CBC’s Joseph Otoo. “Being an Englishman, I will support England.
On Monday, England beat Iran 6-2 in their first game of the tournament, and Canada are set to play their first game against Belgium on Wednesday.
Forster said that despite his loyalty to England, he also supports the Canadian team.
« Canada is doing this for the first time in 36 years, » he said. « If you can’t be behind a nation for whatever reason…you’re not going to be behind anything anymore. »
Be behind a winning team
Kelowna restaurant business owner Adam Relvas was born in the Okanagan to immigrant parents from Portugal.
Relvas says the FIFA World Cup is a great opportunity for family and friends to come together – and he’s sure he’ll be cheering on Portugal in their first game on Thursday and beyond.
As a second-generation Canadian, he says he prefers Portugal to Canada, not only because the former is his ancestral homeland, but also because he believes he has a better chance of winning games.
The Portugal team was ranked third in the FIFA World Cup hosted by England in 1966 and fourth in the one hosted by Germany in 2006.
« I’m just excited to have Canada there, but I think in my heart that maybe I should go for Portugal here, » he said.
Kelowna restaurant owner Barbara Dumbovic, who immigrated from Petrinja, Croatia, said she would share her love equally between Canada and her home country, who are placed in the same group and should play their first match this Sunday.
« I’m going to cheer on both teams, they’re my two teams, because I live in Canada now, [and] I was born and took my first breath in Croatia.
« Let’s see who wins, » she said.