‘A real battle between countries’
It’s something of a cliche to say that soccer is fun to watch or play, but it’s true nonetheless. China Daily spoke to a number of fans to find out what soccer means to them.
When Chen Yikan, a 29-yearold editor at the Shanghai Translation Publishing House, was five years old, he read his first soccer magazine. He was intrigued by the stories and the articles and the names of the foreign players. Later, he studied English language and literature at college and became a translator and editor at one of China’s largest publishing houses.
“I identify myself as a ‘fake’ soccer fan in that I won’t sacrifice sleep for the World Cup. It’s fun to watch the games, but I appreciate them more from an aesthetic angle,” he said.
Yang Xinru, a 26-year-old who works as a marketing employee in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, sees many similarities between her twin loves: soccer and movies.
“Often, the games are like movies. During 90 minutes, you may see every possibility for the two teams. Players live their lives in the games, and you can even tell what will happen to them later. Sometimes the plot is so dramatic that it’s extremely exciting to watch,” she said.
“I also see the games as battles. In past centuries, countries fought each other, but not any more. When I watch a game, however, I feel as though I’m watching a real battle between two countries,” she said.
Having moved away from home, Yang said she misses the times she spent watching the 2006 World Cup with her parents. “We watched all the games together. It’s was so much fun, but this year, I think I will have to watch the competition on my own,” she said.
Beijinger Zhang Leyang, 22, said soccer has an inexplicable, mysterious charm. The rules are simple, but globally the game attracts far more fans than sports such as basketball or volleyball.
Yang Yao, 28, from Suqian, Jiangsu province, thinks soccer is a way of displaying a country’s strength. “I have many hobbies besides soccer, such as playing badminton, reading books and jogging, but soccer gives me something irreplaceable. It shakes you, ignites you, makes you really excited,” he said.
Yang’s interest began at college because his roommates were soccer fanatics. “We used to form our own teams to play during our free time, and we spent many hours discussing the Primera Division de Liga in Spain. For a while, I believed that soccer is life. But since I started working, I have had much less time to devote to soccer. I gradually began to realize that the saying ‘soccer is life’ is a kind of advertisement to help some coaches and teams attract a larger number of die-hard fans. I don’t believe it anymore,” he said.
Kindergarten children take part in a soccer event in Yantai, Shandong province. The competition was arranged to celebrate the world’s biggest soccer tournament.