Despite being a global superpower, China isn’t known for its soccer prowess. Undeterred by their World Cup disqualification in 2011, it seems nothing can stop the nation of over a billion from enjoying the World Cup with enough passion to inspire even the most hardened non-sports fan.
The problem for many Chinese fans is that the majority of matches take place after midnight, which according to the WantChinaTimes, has led many workers to buy fake doctor’s notes online to allow them to stay up late and skip work the next day. While searches for “sick leave notes” are technically banned from China’s largest online shopping platform, Taobao, a quick search for “hospital registration service” often yields the same results, with prices varying depending on the length of leave and what type of imaginary affliction one chooses.
Peddlers of fake doctor’s notes aren’t the only ones cashing in on Chinese World Cup fever – insurance companies are now offering “nightbird insurance” for soccer fans who have died whilst staying up to watch the games (at least three so far, according to WantChinaTimes). This includes packages for “drunk insurance” targeted to those suffering from alcoholism.
While it’s hard to pinpoint an exact cause of China’s World Cup fever, it may have something to do with the group-oriented nature of Chinese culture. Choosing a country to support, donning the respective jersey and gear, and cheering for ‘their’ team with as much passion as a native. Collective celebration of a team’s winning (or lamenting over loss) and partaking in a truly global event may be at the heart of one of the strongest Chinese cultural values. Some avid game-watchers don’t consider themselves “fans” on a regular basis, but are excited for the opportunity to witness, perhaps some for the first time, a game that people around the world are also watching at the exact same time. The IB Times posits that the large number of expats and foreign diplomats living in China have brought their love of the game with them, thus spreading the phenomenon to their Chinese counterparts.
Are you watching the tournament from China? Why do you think Chinese are so crazy for the World Cup? How do you think culture plays into the China’s love of the World Cup?