Little Europe in the Big Smoke

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Little Europe in the Big Smoke

061108euro2008.jpgWe’re as intrigued by “The Hockey Theme” saga as any Canadian sports fan—but with the story becoming increasingly surreal (not to mention trivial), we’ve decided it’s time to focus our attention elsewhere. Like Switzerland and Austria, for instance, where Euro 2008 kicked off last weekend.
We’re big soccer fans (or “football supporters,” if you’d like), and so naturally we’re well-chuffed about the tournament. However, we’re also of the opinion that those of us who are not will find Toronto an especially fun place for the next two-and-a-half weeks. Our city comes alive for international soccer. Sometimes, this leads to some pretty remarkable scenes: recall Euro 2004, for instance, when Greece’s improbable run to the championship sparked wild celebrations on the Danforth which could be heard for miles around. Greece likely won’t win this year—but that doesn’t mean Greektown, or any of the city’s other cultural enclaves, won’t be celebrating whenever their teams are in action.
In that vein, Euro 2008 is a great excuse for people to reconnect with their ancestral heritage (or to adopt a totally new one, especially if they’re English) in the name of the self-styled “beautiful game.” This explains our belief that actually liking soccer isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to liking an event like Euro 2008. That’s admittedly easy for us to say, since we love the game almost as much as life itself, but we’re also captivated by the sense of occasion, by the city awash with colour and by the other beatific fans. Each team has now played, and while the tournament has yet to produce a genuine upset it reached an early crescendo on Monday when the Netherlands, perpetual also-rans in these sorts of things, put three goals past the defending world champions from Italy and surged to the front of the so-called “Group of Death.” There will be drama during the next few weeks—and those of us who reside in Toronto will be well-positioned to enjoy it.
At the very least, we hope Euro 2008 gives newsmakers an excuse to banish “The Hockey Theme” story from our collective memory.
Photo by MonkeyfacedRatfink from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

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