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Spanish fans climb on top of a streetcar in Toronto on July 11, 2010 following Spain’s victory over the Netherlands in the World Cup final. (PATRICK DELL/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Spanish fans climb on top of a streetcar in Toronto on July 11, 2010 following Spain’s victory over the Netherlands in the World Cup final. (PATRICK DELL/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Road Sage

Honk if you hate World Cup celebrations Add to ...

For four weeks, every four years, something odd happens on the streets and roadways around our great wide world. It’s nothing truly awful and it’s not something really great, but it’s irritating – and one thing we don’t need is more traffic-related irritation.

I’m referring to the mini traffic jams and distractions caused by celebrations of World Cup 2014 enthusiasts – a summertime automobile Mardi Gras. With each play, the streets flood with vehicles draped in garish colours and obscure flags driven by gleeful morons and their equally exuberant moron passengers.

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Decorating cars with sports gear, while a little uncool, is not irritating. People love soccer, what I like to call “European rules football.” We get it. But what is irksome is the way the World Cup brings out the poor winner in people. They hit the road en masse when their side triumphs.

Each sport incites different fan-base reactions. The Stanley Cup, for instance, seems to make fans want to destroy their city’s downtown infrastructure and ignite cars. If Montreal wins, fans riot. If the Canucks were to ever win, fans would probably riot, but they make up for it by rioting when they lose. World Series victories often cause mini-drunken riots. Super Bowl wins cause riots. Recently, police had to quell a riot by Seattle Seahawks fans who torched couches, jumped on cars and caused general mayhem.

Take note, these idiots are celebrating a championship. In contrast, World Cup fans will drive around honking if their team wins a single game. Heck, they’ll drive around honking if their team scores a single goal. So, we get four weeks of nut-job nationalists driving around and honking each time anyone wins.

My distaste for World Cup road revelry began in 1998 while living in Toronto’s Corso Italia. It was a double whammy. Italians like soccer. Italy is good at soccer. The celebration was incessant. It seemed like every time I looked up from my limonata, fans were circling the block, clogging St. Clair Avenue West. Then Italy lost on penalty kicks to France.

Great, I thought, I’ll be spared the usual motorcade.

Wrong.

A single Renault draped in a French flag spent an hour driving through Little Italy, rubbing it in.

There is no escape. It’s the “World” Cup after all. There is nowhere you won’t find legions of diehard footballers decking their rides in nationalistic colours dreaming feverishly of the day they can drive around honking like idiots.

I’m not against the World Cup. European rules football deserves to be celebrated. I love sports. I just don’t understand the need to tear around after a win.

When Andre Agassi won the U.S. Open in 1994, I didn’t dress my Jetta up in neon and acid wash jeans and drive around honking. I was happy he’d won, but I understood that he won. Not me. I might have driven around in my dad’s Volvo 240 Series sedan when the San Francisco 49ers won Superbowl XVI in 1982, but I didn’t have a driver’s licence.

Then again, they say, “If you can’t beat, join ‘em.” Perhaps the only way to beat World Cup automobile fever is to give in to it. I’m going to hit the local flag shop. With a name like Clark, I suppose I should buy England’s St. George’s Cross. Then again, I like oranges, so maybe I’ll root for the Dutch – and German beer is pretty tasty, and French Brie is fine. Maybe I’ll get all four to cover my bases.

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