By Wang Yanlin
BEIJING, June 12 (Xinhua) -- China failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup in South Africa, but nothing can stop Chinese fans celebrating the most grand soccer event on the earth.
More than 300 soccer fans gathered at the South Africa Pavilion at Shanghai Expo Friday before the World Cup kicked off. They painted flags on their faces and arms and welcomed the kick-off with dances and soccer games.
The World Cup fever also can be felt elsewhere at Shanghai Expo Park. Visitors on that night watched the tournament's oepning ceremony and the opener on big screen installed on the exterior wall of the Brazil Pavillion, as well as games VCR from LED screens of the Argentian Pavillion.
Also, many fans have chosen to watch World Cup games with friends at pubs all around the country. In western city of Lanzhou, some pubs offer special offers of "barbecue, beer and World Cup" to attract fans.
"We bought big screen television for diners to watch World Cup," said Wang Hai,the owner of a pub in Lanzhou. "I am sure it will bring a lot of fans."
Many South African team's supporters gathered in his pub Friday night, sang and cheered their team's 1-1 draw with Mexico.
"I like watching games at pubs where it is more hilarious. Fans can talk, watch and crazy about soccer together," said Lanzhou citizen Zhou Li.
In Hong Kong, thousands of soccer fans watched the World cup opener on a200-inch screen installed in a shopping mall and celebrated in the streets.
The World Cup tournament attracts one of the world's biggest pack of television audiences. China Central Television is broadcasting all 64 matches of the tournament on its free-to-air channel, which can be picked up by 97 percent of the nation's 1.3 billion citizens.
Topics relating to the World Cup have dominated the Chinese website, too.
Fans have overwhelmed t.sina social messaging network, a Twitter-like microblogging service launched by China's web portal giant Sina, since even days before the World Cup.
A netizen put his Sina twitter update with a picture of a notice posted in his company, saying its employees are granted to be late for up to 90 minutes on dates next to any of the World Cup match days and performance-improving drink is on supply during working hours.
Not as lucky as the up-mentioned netizen, many fans opted to ask for World Cup vacations, or to commit fines for being late for work after watching World Cup games overnight.
On the other hand, merchants of the country see big chances to make money from the grand soccer event.
A wig seller in Yiwu, East China enjoyed a big sale in the latest five months leading to the World Cup month.
"From January to May, the sales of wig increased by one third compared with the same period of last year, and most of the sale are to soccer fans,"said Yang Bangyin, who opens a wig store at the world's largest wholesalers market for more than 17 million kinds of commodities.
"The soccer fans wigs are mainly sold to South American countries like Brazil and Argentina. Although it's hot and sweaty now in their country, still fans want to wear wigs of the team they surpport. As a result, I got many big orders before the World Cup," said Yang.
According to statistics of local customs, Thanks to World Cup, the value of exports of sports goods at Yiwu increased by 110% from January to May, comparing with the same period of last year.
"Usually basketball sells better than football, but thanks to the World Cup fever, football sells became much better ever," said another merchant Li Xiaomei.
"If China could appear at the World Cup finals, I believe I will have crazy football sales," she said with a meaningful smile.