Chinese turn out for distant World Cup

Updated: 2014-06-26 09:16

By James Whitehead (China Daily)

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Chinese turn out for distant World Cup
Beauties in World Cup
Chinese turn out for distant World Cup
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Asked what they thought of the awkward kickoff times, all but one confessed to awarding themselves the following day off. One fan's dedication to "the beautiful game" went a step further. "I'm going to be sick tomorrow," he replied matter-of-factly, as the grin on his face turned into a proud chuckle. He explained how he'd purchased a forged medical certificate, hoping to legitimize his "illness". And it's no surprise, some companies in China have even shifted their working hours to squeeze in the games, hoping to shelter themselves from any economic blows incurred by absent workers. This is something unimaginable in England - although the government has allowed pubs to extend their opening hours for the kickoffs late into the night. With 24 hours to kick back and relax, the man with his "official" high soccer fever will have plenty of time to analyze and choose his team for the coming night's clash of nations.

Shops stuff their aisles with special promotions of beer and snacks. And for a brief moment it looked like the Beijing subway was going to get in on the festivities, too. A proposal had been made to rename 32 lines of the underground after the teams fighting it out at the World Cup - but that was kicked out of play just before the tournament began. But it's evidence that China doesn't need its national team present at the World Cup to join in the celebrations of a sporting event that is unrivalled on the international stage: the Shakespeare of sport.

In stadiums and streets in Brazil, the thundering drums and quick steps of the samba play the soundtrack to the theatrics of the soccer carnival. Its rhythms and noise have filtered their way around the globe: a boombox for the international stage. Feet are tapping here in China, too: We're all dancing the samba.

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