World Cup widows spread their wings

Updated: 2014-06-17 08:37

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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Every game is totally absorbing for her husband, but Qian Zhuoqiong finds it impossible to understand what all the fuss is about.

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"I'm married to the ultimate soccer addict," said Qian, 27.

The Beijing bank clerk is a self-confessed Chinese "soccer widow" - one of an increasing number of women largely ignored during the World Cup, when their husbands become engrossed in the global soccer showpiece to the exclusion of virtually everything else.

Up to one-fifth of women polled in Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province, consider themselves soccer widows who experience lower levels of intimacy with their husbands during the tournament, according to a survey on the effects of the World Cup conducted by Nanchang Evening News.

Some of these women complain that they will be ignored by their husbands during the monthlong event, while others report more quarrels with their partners. Many turn to female friends to shop, watch movies and travel together.

More than one-third of the 1,200 women polled in a survey by online travel portal said they had made travel plans during previous World Cups.

Qian is looking for ways to keep herself occupied during this summer's tournament.

She has joined a package tour to Sweden for sightseeing and a spending spree at the Emporia shopping center in Malmo, billed as the biggest mall in Scandinavia. "It's better for me to use this opportunity to give myself time off from the office and household chores," she said.

"My husband can also invite his friends over for the games without worrying about me."

Tourism authorities in countries such as Sweden and Canada said they welcome women like Qian exploring their attractions while their men enjoy the World Cup.

Yan Jing, who works for Sweden's tourism authority, said Nordic countries are looking forward to welcoming more female Chinese travelers during the tournament.

Short-distance domestic breaks have also become popular among these women. This is partly due to the summer vacation season, according to

Shi Kaifeng, a publicity officer at the travel portal, said the agency has been providing more tour packages this summer to allow female travelers to explore domestic short-trip destinations during the World Cup.

Many shopping malls and e-commerce sites such as Tmall are also offering promotions and more convenient home delivery services to lure women shoppers.

Qian said: "As women are becoming more independent, they no longer have to be with their husbands all day long. We can take full advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the tournament in our own way."

But many Chinese women are joining the euphoria surrounding the World Cup and are enjoying the tournament as much as the men.

Some have decided to cultivate a passion for soccer so that they can watch the games with their partners, the Ctrip poll showed.

Shu Man, head of the counseling center at East China Jiaotong University, said soccer widows should use the opportunity to appreciate the game and spend more time with their husbands.

"The game should help bind, not bust, a relationship," he said.

Husbands should also have more consideration for their wives during the tournament, rather than leaving them alone, he said.

Beijing resident Shi Yan said she is enjoying the World Cup.

"It's like a gala for me and my husband. We can enjoy a match together while inviting friends over," the 27-year-old said.

"There aren't many occasions we can celebrate and enjoy in this manner. We have been looking forward to the World Cup to get closer to family and friends."