Volume 96, Issue 2

Thursday, May 30, 2002
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London is "Hooptown North America"

Beware: Moronic babble below

Into the Raptors' den

The Mustangs in the Hall

Soccer fever is not just hittin' Japan...

Soccer fever is not just hittin' Japan...

By Ryan Dixon
Gazette Staff

If there is any substance to the notion that truly heroic people are known by a single, all-encompassing name to be instantly identified, then get ready for the best sporting event of them all, the tournament stacked with two-syllable heroes - the World Cup of soccer.

While Stanley Cup fever might still be the most dominant sporting force in this area, the World Cup has a way of bringing fans out of the wood work. That wood work might be a little harder to bust through this year with the tournament being held in Japan and South Korea, games will be broadcast here in the wee hours of the morning.

Gazette File Photos

DON'T FORGET YOUR SCARF! As World Cup soccer action heats up, so does London's fan furor.

Then again, you can't keep a good Italian down.

"When Italy plays, the club will be open," declared Alberto Frijia, vice-president of London's Marconi Club. Late night games (or early morning games, depending on how you look at it) will mean sacrificing a staple of sporting events - alcohol.

Frijia said that won't stop the Marconi patrons from sipping a little something while they watch their beloved team. "The bar might not be open, but we'll drink coffee," he laughed.

Frijia admitted to his bias when he said he thinks Italy will excel, but he also identified Argentina and France as two clubs he thinks can do some real damage.

Soccer director at the Portugese Club of London, Gabriel Serpa, said the solid team Portugal has put together for this year's tournament could mean more interest at his club. If Portugal makes it to the final, Serpa said he expects a lot of enthusiasm, no matter what time the game is on.

"It's once in a lifetime," Serpa said of a possible final appearance by Portugal. "[Soccer is] our religion over there."

Serpa said he thinks the Portugese entrance can go deep in the tournament if they can "get past the [United States]" and make it through a tough division.

Supporters of England might well be advised to head down to the Poacher's Arms tavern. Much like the Marconi club, Poacher's owner Danny Choi said breakfast and coffee - without Baileys' of course - could become a big part of this year's tournament because of the time change. And for all those who think Canada is a one sport country, Choi said World Cup soccer is a bigger draw for his bar than the Stanley Cup play-offs.

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