One of the best parts of watching World Cup soccer in Toronto is the ability to watch it with people who are passionate about the game in a way that many of us will never really understand.

Try watching a game with fans of Brazil at a place like College Street's Mod Club Theatre as they are feverishly blowing whistles and pounding out samba beats on drums after their team scores. Or hearing, blocks before you reach them, Korean fans chanting on Bloor Street West as they wait for a playoff game to begin.

If you're of Italian descent, you were probably on St. Clair Avenue on July 9, 2006 with hundreds of thousands of fellow fans, savouring a hard-won World Cup victory by Italy. If you followed France, you probably still haven't gotten the image of the Zinedine Zidane headbutt out of your mind.

Nothing in international sport, short of an Olympic gold medal in hockey, ignites public displays of national pride in this city like the World Cup. This year, the madness started on June 11.

Joseph Michael Howarth spent the 2006 World Cup tournament as a soccer tourist, roaming from venue to venue. He collected thousands of photographs and will open a gallery showing of them on Thursday, June 10 at the Rivoli Lounge on Queen Street West.

"You don't even have to like soccer. You will find it fascinating, and you will begin to appreciate the sport," he told CTV News.

"If you just watch the game at home, you're not really going to get the thrill of the game."

With that in mind, here's some advice on where to go. We've grouped the teams, and offered some guidance on where to watch them with that country's fans, as follows:

This is a work in progress. Please feel free to email Bill Doskoch if you have some soccer-watching tips to pass along.

Howarth will also be tweeting about the World Cup.

Upcoming games

The tournament is almost over, with the final to be played on Sunday, July 11.

Saturday, July 10:

  • Germany vs. Uruguay, 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 11:

  • Spain vs. Netherlands, 2:30 p.m.

German fans will be mainly gathering at the Musket (40 Advance Rd. in Etobicoke) and the Danube Swabian Club (1686 Ellesmere Rd.).

Uruguay fans can try Las Palmas restaurant (1617 Wilson Ave.) or Club Uruguay ( 101 Freshway Dr. in Concord).

Spain's fans have been gathering at Plaza Flamingo (College St. W. and Bathurst St.). You can also try Club Hispano (2465 Dundas St. W.).

Fans of the Netherlands have been gathering at the School Bakery and Cafe (70 Fraser Ave, in Liberty Village).

Additional thoughts

Toronto is a big city with lots of possible soccer-watching venues. The above guides are just a starting point.

For example, the Football Factory at 164 Bathurst St. is a neutral bar, but it sells itself as a home base for Toronto FC fans. So you know it's soccer-friendly. Any major sports bar will likely be showing the games.

Howarth said one good approach is to simply talk to friends who support various national teams and ask if they know about any hot spots to watch the game. He found out about a crazy-big Korean gathering in 2006 because a Korean friend told him he should go there.

Some communities gather at the last minute, he said.

Treat this opportunity as a learning experience. "You can go to the big bars, or you can just hunt down people who care about the game," Howarth said.

"I think we're pretty naïve here about how this is the most important sporting event in the world … And so to really get a flavour of how exciting it is, you need to go out in Toronto to see it," he said.