Jersey City staffer Jade Rempel and customer Ethan Toralson model FIFA World Cup team shirts from Brasil and the Netherlands on Sunday. Run every four years

Soccer fever takes over

Professional soccer struggles to gain the kind of fan support that others sports hold in Central Alberta, especially hockey.

Professional soccer struggles to gain the kind of fan support that others sports hold in Central Alberta, especially hockey.

But with hockey done for the year and football just getting started, the FIFA World Cup in Rio de Janiero, Brazil is gaining traction and boosting sales at local sports shops.

Brandon Merschele, assistant manager at the Jersey City outlet in Red Deer’s Bower Place Shopping Centre said on Sunday that wishes he could have brought in more Germany jerseys.

Items from the top seeded team were among the first to sell out when the tournament started and there will be no more coming, Merschele said on Sunday.

Team jerseys from Colombia also went quickly and Portugal had sold out by Sunday as well, he said.

As with any major sporting event, Merschele and his co-workers put up a display of World Cup soccer items in advance of the month-long tournament, which opened on June 12.

While displays were up in advance, sales were strongest on the opening day, with people suddenly rushing in to get jerseys for their favourite team.

Ten days after the opening match, some fans were still coming in for jerseys, including Sylvan Lake resident Ethan Taralson.

He had been following England, but had to switch loyalties after they were knocked out. Unsuccessful in finding a Germany jersey, he decided to get one from the Netherlands, who are also still in.

Taralson said he’s not a big soccer fan, but gets involved every four years, when FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) puts on its World Cup tournament.

Merschele said he played soccer in school, but does not consider himself a fan of the game.

Canada’s team has qualified for the World Cup in the past, but did not make it this year.

Merschele said Canada’s strongest fan base for soccer is among the people supporting the women’s team, which took bronze in the 2012 Olympics.

Many fans believe that bronze would have been a gold if there had not been a bad call during the Canada-United States game, he said.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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