World Cup fever infects millions in Asia

2010-06-10 09:22

World Cup fever is sweeping across Asia as hundreds of millions of

fans in the football-mad region count down to the start of an event that’s a

surefire winner for pubs, clubs and bookmakers.

From Seoul to Sydney, Beijing to Bangkok, preparations are underway

for tomorrow’s kick-off thousands of kilometres away in South Africa, heralding

a month of late nights and bleary-eyed mornings for many Asian fans.

“We’re expecting the hotel lounge to be full every night,” said

Matthew Rashid, manager of the Equatorial in Kuala Lumpur, where many bars and

pubs are already decked out with colourful bunting and posters.

“Everyone’s excited and I’ll wear a jersey to work throughout the

World Cup,” said the Brazil supporter.

In South Korea, which takes on Greece on Saturday, giant screens

are being set up in public squares, sports stadiums and other locations around

the country for people to cheer on the national team.

On the other side of the world’s most heavily militarised border,

North Koreans will be following a rare appearance by their side, who have

qualified for the event for the first time in 44 years.

But they risk being left without any television coverage after

Seoul refused to provide a free feed to its impoverished neighbour owing to

tensions over the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

In Tokyo, where interest in the sport has taken off since Japan

co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, suited white-collar workers were among those

taking a break from their hectic schedules for a screaming contest to warm up

for kick-off.

The winner was a man whose cry of “goal” lasted for 32 seconds. For

those who prefer just to watch, Sony will provide 3D images of the action at

about 500 sites around Japan.

Pubs and bars in Bangkok – still reeling from the deadly “Red

Shirt” protests – are hoping the event will tempt back the punters, despite a

state of emergency which in theory bans public gatherings of more than five


The authorities have reassured football fans they will not be

arrested for watching the matches – even if they wear a red jersey.

“It’s no problem to wear a red shirt and cheer at the football as

long as there are no guns involved,” said a Thai army spokesman.

Security will be particularly tight for kickoff at a Bangkok prison

where inmates from around the globe are holding their own version of the World


Vietnam is also soccer obsessed and the hugely anticipated event is

expected to all but bring daily life to a halt, while in Afghanistan foreign

troops will be crowding around every available television.

Christoph Schmidt, a 31-year-old German-born US corporal in the

97th Military Police Battalion in Kandahar, had no doubts who he will be


“I am definitely for Germany. There is no debate. The US might as

well send their women’s soccer team,” he said.

At Casey Station in Antarctica, Australian scientists will tune in

over the radio when their team play Germany on Sunday.

“They’ll listen to it but they can’t see it,” a spokeswoman told


Stung by the national side’s failure to qualify, Chinese fans can

at least drown their sorrows while watching the matches at bars and parks across

the nation, as well as at the South African pavilion at the World Expo in


While stock markets may see a dip in trading as investors turn

their eyes to South Africa, bookies are expected to see a surge in turnover,

even in countries such as Thailand and Cambodia where betting is illegal.

Yet while many businesses are happy to be infected with World Cup

fever, others are bracing for a month of lost productivity.

Some workers may take “sickies” after the matches or come to work

intent on watching replays, said Deb Loveridge, chief executive of New Zealand

human resources company Randstad.

In Indonesia, civil servants have been warned of pay cuts if they

fail to turn up on time over the next month.

“Imagine if football lovers come late every day to the office, how

much money will we lose?” said a Jakarta government spokesman.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.