As 32 teams prepare to perform on the world stage in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Vancouver Island soccer fans get ready to cheer on their favourite teams.
The first match begins on Nov. 20 at 8 a.m., with Qatar facing off against Ecuador. The last time that the Canadian Men’s team qualified for the World Cup was in 1986. The women’s team qualified in 2019.
The tournament is attracting Islanders to travel to the host country to experience the games for themselves. Local business owner Ian Klitsie is only staying 24 hours in Qatar to watch Canada face Belgium.
“It’s pretty exciting, and, number one, that Canada is actually in the world and we get to go watch them play,” Klitsie told CHEK News.
The World Cup has been met with pushback between tournament organizers and Qatar officials. In a sudden change, the country announced it would ban alcohol sales within the stadium.
“[For] this to happen 48 hours before, this isn’t good,” said Klitsie.
Last month, the Province of B.C. gave the green light to bars, pubs, and restaurants to extend their operating hours so that fans can watch the event.
Eligible businesses are not allowed to serve non-alcoholic beverages outside of regular service hours. Recently, Ontario announced it would allow businesses to serve alcohol as early as 7 a.m. throughout the World Cup.
“I got a couple of buddies going over to Qatar, so [I’m] a bit worried for them,” said Mike Butler, who’s planning to watch the tournament.
Yates Street Taphouse is still using this opportunity to get soccer fans inside, offering giveaways and specials, with its doors opening as early as 6:30 a.m. for certain games.
Director of Operations Spencer Buck with Victoria Pub Co. has similar plans for all three of its locations, including the Bard and Banker, Irish Times, and Penny Farthing. Buck adds food specials are also on the menu.
“We’re gonna be doing some of the matching of foods with countries that are playing,” said Buck.
Canada faces Belgium for its first beginning on Nov. 23 at 11 a.m.