Chinese fans embrace soccer, World Cup
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: firstname.lastname@example.org