Watching the World Cup is great in a diverse city like Toronto

Toronto, with its many ethnic enclaves, is a great and unique place to watch the World Cup.
Italian fans in Toronto gathered to watch Italy against Paraguay during the early stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. (Adrien Veczan/CP)

Toronto, with its many ethnic enclaves, is a great and unique place to watch the World Cup.

Sometimes known as the city of many neighbourhoods, Toronto retains strong ethnic and cultural ties to its residents' homelands. Roughly 48 per cent of the city's 2.6 million inhabitants are foreign born, according to the 2011 census, and the city’s emergency services are equipped to answer calls in more than 150 languages.

So it's no wonder — although Canada didn’t make it into the World Cup, once again — Toronto is a hotbed of celebration for fans of football, or soccer, if you prefer.

The World Cup offers 32 teams the chance to compete for the glory and bragging rights. That's 32 different nations with their eyes on the same prize. 

Spanish fans climb on top of a streetcar in Toronto on July 11, 2010 following Spain's victory over the Netherlands in the World Cup final. (Patrick Dell/The Canadian Press)

Shawn MicAllef, author of the book Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto, says Toronto allows residents to understand and participate in events that transcend their own neighbourhoods — whether it's one of the many city-hosted cultural festivals, or more politically motivated events such as protests at area consulates. 

“In Toronto you can see an articulation of world events at street level,” MicAllef said, but also “happier” events, like the World Cup, have their place in the city, bringing out community spirit. 

MicAllef recalled how, while walking home during the 2002 Cup, he inadvertently became part of a huge celebration when South Korea qualified for the semi-finals.

Though already a busy and popular neighbourhood, a moment liked that “helped Little Korea come of age.”

His advice for enjoying the World Cup and the city’s diversity — if you aren't too much a die-hard fan of a specific team — is to try to experience different games in different neighbourhoods..

“Walk around, find a random bar in the neighbourhood. You can always sit with the home team and, if they win, you get to share in the celebrations,” he said.

An added plus to this year’s World Cup, the timezone only differs by one hour from host country Brazil, so matches are easily watchable.

Where should you watch a match?

If you love patriotism and supporting team Canada at any and all events, you won’t be able to this time. Canada missed qualifying by losing to Honduras. 

But, with such rich diversity, you should have no trouble finding a place that’s big on supporting whichever other country you’re cheering for now.

This CBC app can tell you where the best place to watch is based on whichever team you select.

And don’t forget, matches are screened live in the CBC atrium, which is open to the public, and here online if you prefer to watch in the comfort of your own home.