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Canadian fans cheer England, Brazil; lament Portuguese and German exits

The drama of the world’s most-watched sporting event is alternately breaking hearts, and taking Canadian fans’ breath away. Over the past three weeks, World Cup viewers have gone from the heights of elation to the depths of despair, depending on the fortunes of their favourite teams.

And, while the “beautiful game” is by no means Canadians’ preferred choice of sporting event to watch when compared to hockey or the Olympic Games, a new Angus Reid Institute survey finds a significant segment of the country connecting with the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

While this report may be hard to read for Japanese fans still grieving a last-second Round of 16 loss to Belgium, plenty of Canadians are able to cheer their team of choice into the quarter-finals. England and Brazil emerge as Canada’s favourites for the rest of the tournament, and undoubtedly bar-owners across the country too. More than half of those who are interested in the tournament report watching a game at a bar or restaurant.

The big draw for many Canadians, however, is 2026. Along with Mexico and the United States, Canada recently won a joint bid to host the World Cup in eight years. The number of Canadians who are interested in that tournament jumps to just under half (46%) from the 37 per cent who say they are watching currently.

More Key Findings:

  • Among Canadians who are following the tournament, England is the top rooting interest. More than one-in-six (18%) say they’re pulling for the Three Lions. Brazil (12%) and eliminated powers Portugal (16%) and Germany (12%) are other top choices, while 16 per cent are just along for the ride, cheering for no squad in particular
  • Two elements hinder the 2018 World Cup for Canadian viewers. One-in-three (33%) say they would be catching more games if the time zone aligned more closely with theirs, and half (49%) say they worry that corruption influences game outcomes. Perhaps due to this, 27 per cent of Canadians say they’re following the tournament less closely than they expected to.
  • British Columbians are generally supportive of their provincial government’s decision not to host World Cup games in Vancouver in 2026. Seven-in-ten (68%) say the government made the right choice, after reportedly having difficulty garnering clarity about the costs the province would incur
  • Despite lower levels of viewership than other countries, Canadians pay their respects to soccer fans. More than six-in-ten (63%) say that soccer fans are more passionate than other sports fans

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