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BEIJING – A plague of insanity fueled by an unstoppable psychological and cultural force is spreading throughout China. That force: the FIFA World Cup.

 

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 center of the Chinese capital at 3am local time Wednesday -- kickoff time in Hanover -- and gutted the traditional courtyard dwelling, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported. While the man’s wife promptly rescued their baby, the man grabbed the family’s television and ran out. Once safe, the man began to search for a socket to continue watching the game.

 

The 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.

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