Thursday, June 29, 2006
Beijing (Reuters): A Beijing soccer fan refused to let the small matter of his house burning down disturb his enjoyment of Tuesday's World Cup match between France and Spain. A fire broke out in a hutong in the centre of the Chinese capital at 3am local time yesterday -- kickoff time in Hanover and gutted the traditional courtyard dwelling, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported. ''When the neighbours shouted 'fire!', I took my little baby and ran out in my nightclothes,'' the man's wife told the paper. ''My husband paid no attention to the danger, just grabbed the television and put it under his arm. ''After getting out of the house, he then set about finding an electric socket to plug in and continue watching his game.'' The anti-social timing of the matches broadcast from Germany, which is six hours behind China, has forced some Chinese fans to go to great lengths to follow the action.
One man quit his job in Beijing to return to his hometown Chongqing so he could watch the whole tournament uninterrupted. State news agency Xinhua reported that the 23-year-old's boss at the IT company had offered him a pay rise, but he turned it down flat, saying the World Cup was more important than his job. The Guangzhou Daily reported that local police were forced to release a thief arrested for stealing a mobile phone when the victim refused to press charges because he did not want to miss the start of a match.
Although there are also many female World Cup fans in China, one man in the southeastern city had to sign a contract with his wife agreeing to do all the housework during the month of the finals so he could watch the matches at night. Another from Putian, Fujian province, took a less diplomatic approach, Xinhua reported. When his cheers during the Argentina-Ivory Coast match woke his wife and she switched off the television, he locked her in their bedroom and settled back down to watch the game ignoring her loud protests.