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Ireland a popular jersey as Vancouver fans get ready for Euro 2016

Soccer jerseys on display at the VancitySports store on Seymour St. in downtown Vancouver. .
Soccer jerseys on display at the VancitySports store on Seymour St. in downtown Vancouver. .

Vancouver fans are getting ready for the Euro 2016 soccer tournament by snapping up jerseys of their favourite teams.

John Szvelka with VancitySports on Seymour Street says Ireland is their best-selling jersey so far.

The Republic of Ireland participated in the 2012 UEFA European Championship, but had not qualified for 24 years before then.

Szvelka says they have already sold over 35 Ireland jerseys, with only L and XL sizes left, even though the team does not play until Monday.

“They have not qualified for a very long time, so I can see why the jerseys are selling so well,” he says.

Szvelka says they are not the only store struggling to maintain a Team Ireland supply. He says the jersey would be hard to come by anywhere in Canada, so they can’t even re-order it.

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Ireland has an estimated odds of 150/1 of winning the tournament, with host country France being the favourite this year.

WATCH: There’s plenty of interest in Vancouver for a major European sporting event that kicks off today. Jen Palma is at the heart of the action on Commercial Drive.

Euro Cup fever hits Commercial Drive
Euro Cup fever hits Commercial Drive

Szvelka’s store had to order the jerseys six months in advance to ensure they have enough inventory for the start of the tournament on June 10.

“It’s not like we wait till the bitter end,” he says. “Everybody has to plan ahead, because if we don’t get the bookings in, there won’t be any jerseys.”

Other popular jerseys include England, France, Belgium and Germany, the reigning world champion.

Helping their sales, Szvelka says Argentina jerseys are also flying off the shelves.

That’s because the team is playing Panama in Chicago Friday night, and facing Bolivia in Seattle on Tuesday, as part of the Copa America Centenario, a South American version of the Euros, hosted by the United States this year.

“It’s a double hit. Lionel Messi is going to be there, and hopefully he can play,” says Szvelka.

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Szvelka says soccer is a very jersey-driven sport, and they have been selling a lot of soccer merchandise lately.

Even compared to Euro 2012,  Szvelka says the interest is definitely higher.

“Whether that has to do with the World Cup in Brazil being in such a good time zone two years ago and people catching on to the game, or the Vancouver Whitecaps driving the interest locally,” he says, “Soccer has definitely been one of our biggest sports. We carry the merchandise all year along. It’s not just the Euros.”

Meanwhile, the interest in hockey seems to be waning this time of year, says Szvelka.

“It is going the other way, I am sad to say.”

The Stanley Cup Finals, where the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins are battling it out for the title, has not been as profitable for Szvelka lately. However, the final showdown between the NBA’s  Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers is still bringing in the cash.

“We get a lot of requests for Steph Curry jerseys,” says Szvelka.

What Euro 2016 team do you support? Let us know in the comments below. 

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