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Updated: Wed, 11 Jun 2014 18:25:52 GMT | By CBC Sports, cbc.ca

FIFA World Cup: 5 Canadian connections



Canadian soccer fans may recognize Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who played for Canada at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Canadian soccer fans may recognize Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who played for Canada at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The World Cup is being contested thousands of kilometres from Canadian soil, without a Canadian team. But here are five Canadian connections to watch for in Brazil.

1. MLS representation

- Julio Cesar, G, Toronto FC/Brazil — Although the keeper has only played seven MLS matches and may reportedly be heading back to Queens Park Rangers after the World Cup, he still loved his time north of the border:

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- Michael Bradley, MF, Toronto FC/U.S. – TFC fans have only caught a glimpse of what he can do, but the Americans will rely on him to anchor the middle of the pitch.

- Jermain Defoe, F, Toronto FC/England (standby list) – If you haven’t heard about Toronto FC luring Defoe across the ocean, well....

- Steven Beitashour, D, Vancouver Whitecaps/Iran – Joined Vancouver this off-season and should fit in well with a defensive-minded Iranian club.

2. Asmir Begovic, G, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jonathan de Guzman, MF, Netherlands

Jonathan de Guzman was born and raised in Scarborough, Ont., but is representing the Netherlands in Brazil. His older brother Julian plays for the Canadian national team.

Asmir Begovic, the goalkeeper with dual nationality, spent part of his youth in Edmonton and has represented Canada on the international stage. He played for Canada at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. And hey, he may even provide some scoring punch:

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3. Economics/politics

There's concern the World Cup could have an impact on voter turnout in the Ontario election on Thursday. Bars and local businesses will also likely benefit from (excessive?) World Cup celebrations, as people come to drink decked out in face paint and colourful flags. Watch this from four years ago:

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4. Cultural connections

According to a recent poll conducted by CIBC, Canadians have World Cup fever. All 32 nations in the tournament have some form of Canadian fan support, while almost half (46 per cent) of Canucks will have a vested interest in one team, the poll revealed. Which countries have the most support, according to the poll? England (24 per cent of votes) and Brazil (13 per cent) were the most popular. 

5. Touch ‘em all, Joe! (Fletcher)

Joe Fletcher, a 38-year-old chartered accountant who hails from St. Catharines, Ont., will be suiting up to patrol the pitch as a lineman at the World Cup. He has MLS and Olympic experience, but it will be his first World Cup.

Touch ‘em all, Joe, you’ll never officiate a bigger match in your life. 

Why will you be watching the World Cup? Let us know below.

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