Capturing the World Cup Frenzy
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Capturing the World Cup Frenzy

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Togo vs. South Korea, Private residence near St. Clair Avenue West and Keele Street, June 13, 2006.


The accelerated pulse, the tightening muscles, the bite of the lip—no, this isn’t going where you think it is—watching the final tense minutes of a game can elicit all kinds of reactions. Whether you’re a sports fan, soccer fan, or just appreciate well-toned bodies, you have your reasons for tuning into the World Cup, but what draws devotees and the normally disinterested alike is the emotion an event like this pulls out of the public.
Photographer Joseph Michael Howarth captured the euphoria and dejection of Toronto fans of all thirty-two teams who played in 2006’s World Cup. His exhibit Waving Flags: Toronto’s World Cup Frenzy is on display at the Rivoli on Queen Street until July 10.
“To me this is not about the sport at all, said Howarth. “When you catch a raw emotion there’s nothing else like it.”


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Croatia vs. Japan, Croatia Park (Mississauga Road and Eglinton Avenue West), Streetsville, June 18, 2006.


Howarth said that, like himself, you don’t have to be a soccer aficionado to enjoy the Cup.
“I wanted to introduce people who aren’t fans of soccer to how much fun it really is, and how cool TO is to do this stuff in,” said Howarth at his opening on June 10.
Toronto is one of the few cities where all the nationalities featured in the World Cup were and will be watching, worrying and celebrating together.
“It’s about passion and embracing multiculturalism,” he said. “I can travel the world right here in Toronto.”
Howarth has lived and worked on all the continents but one, and returned to Canada in 2005, after finishing his Master’s degree in photography in the States.
“When I got back I wanted to tackle a big project, saw the World Cup coming around, and thought, wow, I really need to do this.”
“This” meant tracking down fans for all thirty-two teams and catching them while watching a live broadcast of their team playing. No flash photography, just the moment as it was.
Silhouettes of masses jut towards the sky in jubilation; a lone shopkeeper gazes at a small TV hanging from the ceiling; two men fly off the couch with eyes wide and mouths open, to hoist up their dog in triumph.

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Japan vs. Brazil, Philthy McNasty’s near King Street West and John Street, June 22, 2006.


Finding these moments proved a challenge at times, Howarth admits, often resulting in a “wild goose chase.”
“When I see people who make maps, they’re wrong,” he said. “When you make the calls, you find out there’s no one there.”
Howarth will be back at it this time around, just for the eleven newcomers to the Cup though. He will be updating the places to be for a given game via Twitter @WorldCupToronto, because, he said, “it can change in a minute.”
Still, Howarth isn’t searching out venues to take in the sport.
“I can’t emphasize how much I don’t care who wins or loses,” he said, though he would prefer an underdog’s hands clutching the Cup in the end.
“I’m going to watch the people watching the games.”
Photos by Joseph Michael Howarth

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