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Canadians with ties to other nations face tough choice on who to cheer for at World Cup

A man wearing a Canadian soccer team jersey, holding a red scarf that reads “Canada soccer”.

A man wearing a Canadian soccer team jersey, holding a red scarf that reads “Canada soccer”.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Philippe Martin


Canada is appearing in the FIFA men's World Cup for the 1st time since 1986

Some B.C. soccer fans who are first- or second-generation Canadians say they are facing a tough choice when it comes to who to cheer for in this year's FIFA World Cup.

For the first time in 36 years, Canada's men's team has made it to the tournament, which is being held 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.

That means Canadian fans generally find themselves cheering for another country.

That's the case for West Kelowna actor Matt Riseley Forster, who was born in England and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, about 30 kilometres north of Durham, the birthplace of Team Canada's coach, John Herdman's.

Forster says it has been a family tradition to cheer on England in the tournament, and that's not changing this time around.

We're going to win it. We're bringing it [the trophy] home, he told CBC's Joseph Otoo. Being an Englishman, I'm going to support England.

Matt Forster.

English-born West Kelowna actor Matt Forster says he'll root for England, but as a father of three Canadian-born children, he also supports the Canadian team.

Photo: Facebook/Matt Forster

I'm just excited to have Canada there, but I think in my heart, I may have to go for Portugal here, he said.

Kelowna restaurant owner Barbara Dumbovic, who immigrated from Petrinja, Croatia, says she will spread her love equally between Canada and her country of origin, which are placed in the same group and are set to have their first game with each other this Sunday.   

"I'm going to cheer for both teams, They're both my 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.

Winston Szeto (new window) · CBC News with files from Joseph Otoo and Yuri Coghe