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Frank Torres, his wife Jackie, and their children, left to right, Nigel, Isabelle, Madeline and Erica, are staying with friends in Rio, but may have to splurge on seats for the final. (MARK BLINCH FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Frank Torres, his wife Jackie, and their children, left to right, Nigel, Isabelle, Madeline and Erica, are staying with friends in Rio, but may have to splurge on seats for the final. (MARK BLINCH FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Soccer-mad Canadians dig deep to see the World Cup Add to ...

Globe and Mail Update Apr. 25 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

Video: How this Winnipeg travel company is making a World Cup play

Mr. MacKinnon, 36, and his friend Vince Hardy are travelling to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and taking in two games over 10 days: England against Uruguay and Russia against Belgium, seats they bought for close to $200 a pop in FIFA’s official lottery without knowing what teams they would see.

For the privilege, they are sharing a $385-a-night hotel room that Mr. MacKinnon said normally costs $90: “It’s a roof. That’s pretty much all we need, a place to dump our stuff.”

Still mired in the arduous process of getting a visa and rebooking a cancelled flight from Rio to Sao Paulo, he said he isn’t overly worried about whether Brazil’s stadiums or airports will be ready, or about his safety.

“We’re not going to be going on any adventures,” he said. “We’re going to stick to the places we know. You hear all this stuff about all the violence in the favelas and stuff like that … I think our exuberance outweighs the little bit of worry.”

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WHO'S MAKING THE TRIP?

During the last World Cup, soccer provided a way for Frank Torres, a first-generation Canadian whose parents came from Spain, to connect his football-crazed 11-year-old son, Nigel, to his heritage.

While celebrating Spain’s win in South Africa with thousands of others on Toronto’s College Street, Mr. Torres started thinking that a soccer pilgrimage would be a good excuse to return to Brazil, where he and his wife Jackie travelled years ago.

“It was a tremendous experience, the way that the kids get in touch with their heritage through sport,” Mr. Torres said.

Recently, a friend moved to Rio de Janeiro, offering the family a place to stay. Now, Mr. Torres, who does traffic reports on local station AM 740 and owns a business that creates content for other radio stations, is taking his son, plus his nine-year-old daughter Isabel, seven-year-old twins Madeline and Erica, and wife Jackie, to Brazil for the World Cup.

Despite staying with friends, the family hasn’t been immune to the gouging. They saw the price of a beach house they booked north of Rio shoot up to $5,000 a week from $1,900 after the owner realized they wanted it during the World Cup.

They will be in Rio the day of the final, but they haven’t bought tickets. Particularly if Spain is on the pitch, Mr. Torres said, they may have to splurge on seats: “Even just being in Rio when the soccer’s on, is just going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’ll go down there open-minded and we may end up being open-walleted as well.”

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Marc MacKinnon, a long-time soccer fan who works in communications for the federal government in Ottawa, has been looking forward to the World Cup in Brazil for years.

“It’s Brazil,” he explained. “They’re soccer crazy. We figured if there was one to go to, this was it. I don’t anticipate getting to another one in my lifetime. This is it.”

Mr. MacKinnon, 36, and his friend Vince Hardy are travelling to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and taking in two games over 10 days: England against Uruguay and Russia against Belgium, seats they bought for close to $200 a pop in FIFA’s official lottery without knowing what teams they would see.

For the privilege, they are sharing a $385-a-night hotel room that normally costs $90: “It’s a roof. That’s pretty much all we need, a place to dump our stuff.”

Still mired in the arduous process of getting a visa and rebooking a cancelled flight from Rio to Sao Paulo, he said he isn’t worried about whether Brazil’s stadiums or airports will be ready, or about his safety.

“We’re not going to be going on any adventures,” he said. “We’re going to stick to the places we know. You hear all this stuff about all the violence in the favelas and stuff like that … I think our exuberance outweighs the little bit of worry.”

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