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World Cup fever hits St. Albert

Watering holes seeing their share of soccer fans

By: By Berkley Lamb

  |  Posted: Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014 04:00 pm

SOCCER FEVER – Soccer fans Thais Souca, who is from Brazil, and David Komadowski (a Winnipeger now living in Edmonton), show their support for the Brazilian team prior to its match against Mexico on day six of the FIFA 2014 World Cup on Tuesday.
SOCCER FEVER – Soccer fans Thais Souca, who is from Brazil, and David Komadowski (a Winnipeger now living in Edmonton), show their support for the Brazilian team prior to its match against Mexico on day six of the FIFA 2014 World Cup on Tuesday.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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World Cup action is in full tilt here in St. Albert. From the social media scene to local pubs filling up with jersey-clad patrons, the world's biggest soccer faceoff is creating a stir in the city.

The 20th World Cup is being hosted in Brazil from June 12 to July 13, and features a 32 teams. According to the Historical Dictionary of Soccer, the World Cup is the most viewed sports event in the world, surpassing even the Olympic games.

Even though St. Albert is known for being a hockey town, there are some die-hard soccer fans. Watching the Tuesday match between Brazil and Mexico at the Celtic Knot were Thais Souza and David Komadowski, sporting vibrant yellow Brazil jerseys. Souza sings the Brazilian national anthem proudly before her team begins its game.

“I just moved to Canada a month ago, I left my whole life in Brazil,” explains Souza about being a Brazilian fan.

When asked which team she believes will win the World Cup this year, Souza leans in favour of, you guessed it, Brazil, due to being the home team, having a new coach, as well as having earned a previous five World Cups.

“I think there's a lot of pressure in Brazil right now. I don't know, we weren't doing so good the last few championships, but we had a different coach,” explains Souza.

“They changed the coach now. The last World Cup he was coaching for Portugal – he's really good. The change might bring some trophies for us.”

With the buildup to the games, and the world's eyes on Brazil, Souza explains the issues that have arisen from the upcoming games.

“They spent about $7 billion … there are lots of parades and protests right now … people are saying if the government had this money, why don't we have better education and transportation … people are going pretty crazy,” explains Souza.

“They are taking advantage that the whole world is looking at Brazil right now.”

Sports writer Jamie Umbach, who spends his days analyzing and writing about soccer for FC Edmonton, believes the home team will do well but come up short of the championship. After analyzing the matchups, Umbach believes there are several top contenders with a chance to be in the final round.

“It's going to be close – a lot of teams can take it. Everyone thinks Brazil is good,” says Umbach.

“However I would definitely pick the Germans. They have great midfield presence … they're too hard to shut down. Their squad is really close knitted. I bet it'll be Brazil and Germany in the final, and Germany will win.

Though St. Albert is more known as a hockey community, Umbach (a St. Albert native) argues that soccer is garnering a strong fan base in the city.

“It's a niche sport right now, but it's really growing,” he says.

And the World Cup is bringing a new wave of business to St. Albert's pubs and bars.

“It's been good for business. There's a groundswell of people who are following soccer,” says Wesley Littke of The Celtic Knot.

“During the first round you don't expect anything crazy. The second and final round we expect more people.”

When asked which teams seem to be preferred by patrons, bar managers mentioned Brazil and England as early favourites.

“The very first day we had some people in here dressed up for the Brazil match. It gets pretty boisterous,” says Littke.

Much was the same story at The Beer Hunter, as told by daytime manager Morgan MacGillivary.

“England was big on Saturday, then there were quite a few for Brazil last week… it can get pretty rowdy in here,” explains MacGillivary.

World Cup action can be caught at most of the local St. Albert pubs and bars leading to July 13 at 1 p.m. for the championship game.


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