Chi­nese fans em­brace soc­cer, World Cup

China Daily (Canada) - - FOCUS -

death, but for many people, it’s sim­ply en­ter­tain­ment, and a chance to in­dulge their wilder sides.

“I think I’m a ‘real’ soc­cer fan be­cause all my fam­ily are. We have watched soc­cer to­gether since I was lit­tle. But the fact is that I re­ally fell in love with soc­cer when I saw David Beck­ham on TV,” Zhang Leyang, 22, a govern­ment em­ployee in Be­jing, said with a chuckle. “Fine! I’m a fe­male ‘fake’ soc­cer fan, and I love hand­some men!”

Many of her peers seem to share that feel­ing. Pho­tos of hand­some soc­cer teams in their of­fi­cial World Cup suits have been spread­ing like a virus across the In­ter­net. Ne­ti­zens unan­i­mously voted to re­place Italy with Ger­many as the “male model team,” that is, the most hand­some collection of play­ers in the tour­na­ment.

“My heart broke into lit­tle pieces when Ger­many’s Marco Reus tore an an­kle lig­a­ment and was ruled out of the World Cup,” Zhang said.

To sat­isfy de­mand, a wealth of videos and other in­struc­tional ma­te­rial has been pro­duced. Many have be­come wildly pop­u­lar on­line, es­pe­cially one site that iden­ti­fies the most hand­some play­ers in the 32 teams, in­clud­ing the Span­ish duo of Fer­nando Tor­res and Casil­las Fer­nan­dez, Brazil’s Os­car Dos San­tos, Robin van Per­sie of the Nether­lands, and Mats Ju­lian Hum­mels and Philipp Lahm of Ger­many.

Other on­line ma­te­rial pro­vides soc­cer il­lit­er­ates with ba­sic facts about the teams and star play­ers, so women will be wel­come to watch the games with their boyfriends and hus­bands, safe in the knowl­edge that they won’t com­mit faux pas such as: “Why isn’t David Beck­ham play­ing?”, or — much worse! — “Where is the Chi­nese team?”

Since soc­cer is al­most ex­clu­sively a male ac­tiv­ity in China, the next four weeks could prove make or break time for many love­birds, as the men stare at TV screens, for­get­ting to talk to, text, or even no­tice, their girl­friends and wives. Hu­mor and tol­er­ance

In an at­tempt to stop the sit­u­a­tion from get­ting out of hand, some on­line ma­te­rial of­fers women ad­vice along the lines of: “There is no need for girls to get an­gry. Try to un­der­stand soc­cer and watch the games to­gether with your boyfriend, if you want. Try to be gen­tle and con­sid­er­ate, to buy snacks and beer for your boyfriends who will be stay­ing up late, so they will be grate­ful for what you do.”

While some may find these sug­ges­tions help­ful, hu­mor is likely to be a far more ef­fec­tive panacea. One of the most pop­u­lar jokes do­ing the rounds on the In­ter­net goes: “In the long his­tory of the World Cup, only three teams have ever beaten China: Brazil, Turkey and Costa Rica. Since the 2002 World Cup, China has main­tained an un­beaten record, and among the win­ners of the tour­na­ment, only Brazil has claimed vic­tory over China. We are very proud of our team!” Con­tact the au­thor at: yangyangs@chi­nadaily.com.cn

LI FENG / CHINA DAILY

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