June 10th, 2010
12:40 PM ET

World Cup from the couch: Diary of an armchair soccer fan

TV remote? Check. Snacks? Check. Wallchart planner? Check. All essential for World Cup watching. (CNN)
TV remote? Check. Snacks? Check. Wallchart planner? Check. All essential for World Cup watching. (CNN)

CNN Hong Kong Operations Supervisor Matthew Booth will attempt to watch every match from South Africa on television. Can he do it without being fired/divorced/committed to an asylum? Follow his updates here, as he becomes more and more incoherent from extreme sleep deprivation.

Hong Kong - Declaring that you are going to watch all 64 matches of the World Cup in the middle of the night elicits a variety of bemused and derisory reactions from people.

“What, even New Zealand-Slovakia?” is a common question. “That’s a bit mad isn’t it?” is another. “Oh Matthew, don’t be silly” was a nice one from my mum.

My wife is having a real problem accepting this mission I have given myself and as recently as last weekend asked me - again - which matches I was going to watch.


“Hey, less of the shouting, more of the explaining”

“I HAVE been explaining and that didn’t work, so now I’m trying shouting!”

I have also gently pointed out that I have tried to do this before.

In 2006 I was doing rather well until England’s rather dismal performances took the wind out of my sails, and then the loss on penalties to Portugal burst my bubble entirely. I went to bed sulking, only to return to the television for the final which I grumpily watched, arms folded and scowling.

1998 was the best I have ever done at watching all the matches. The only one I didn’t see was the third-place playoff match, which my alarm failed to wake me for.

So I’ve never managed it before, and this year it’ll be harder than ever. The time difference between Hong Kong, where I live, and South Africa means that matches will start between 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. local time, and as I often work on the CNN Asian morning shift, sometimes I will start work less than an hour after the late-night matches finish.


I’m also deeply aware how irritating and disruptive this will be to my darling wife, Veronica, who will have to live with a Zombie-like football ghoul at least until the group stages are over. Not to mention the alarms going off in the middle of the night and the shouts of excitement that I think are "oh so quiet" being nothing of the sort.


So, armed with nothing more than a TV remote, crates of Diet Coke, an endless supply of baby carrots and my loyal dog Buzz, I look forward to the challenge of keeping my job and marriage intact while watching EVERY match of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

And yes, even New Zealand versus Slovakia.

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Zac

    Do not worry my friend. I will be trying to do the same, though i already know that i may miss a few. I wonder if it counts if i save it on Sky + and watch it later...

    June 10, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  2. Sachiko

    Haha! I'm planning on doing the same – to the chagrin of the rest of my family. Hoping the sound of the vuvuzelas will not be too distracting, but oh well, at least it will keep me awake during matches like NZ – Slovakia.
    Fortunately the matches will be at 730pm and midnight this side of the world! 🙂

    June 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  3. ANdre

    Same here. Easier because games will be on from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.
    But can't catch them all live because I can't skip work.

    So goona be watching re-runs a couple hours later. Hope that counts.

    Oh and when the vuvuzela's bee swarm begin to drive you crazy simply hit the "mute" button. Very efective. Did that last year at Confederations Cup. Of course it helped we won. heheh

    June 10, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  4. Jack

    I'm a fellow Hongkonger Matt and I'm trying to do the same thing! It's going to be a rough month...

    June 11, 2010 at 3:15 am | Reply
  5. Daniel Turner

    A heroic quest indeed! but I'm pretty sure you'll pull this off. OK, so the games begin between 2200-0230, and you say you usually start work not long after the games finish. I'm thinking right off the bat you should just scratch all ideas of post-game sleeping, and go to bed at 1700-1800 straight after an early dinner with your understanding wife. The same understanding wife that will wake you up when she goes to sleep.

    This will net you at least 4 hours of sleep per 24 hours, and you'll be in decent shape at work. You'll probably get a nasty sleep comedown at lunch, but that's what coffee's for.

    There is simply put no way you will fail, unless your wife sabotages it.

    June 11, 2010 at 3:20 am | Reply
  6. Prash

    Go Mathew...am with you..though its difficult for me to achieve it i am planning to do it atleast 50% of the games

    June 11, 2010 at 4:28 am | Reply
  7. Fern

    I took a month's vacation time in 2006 to watch every game. My co-workers thought I was nuts. Luckily the game times are quite reasonable in my time zone.

    June 11, 2010 at 5:12 am | Reply
  8. Jay

    bahahahaha even new zealand and slovakia?? so hilarious, im a new zealander and thats a bit embarrassing.. hehe

    June 11, 2010 at 5:20 am | Reply
  9. Peter

    What is wrong with NZ and Slovakia? It hurts 🙁

    June 11, 2010 at 5:33 am | Reply
  10. TD

    I think it's great what you're trying to do. Good luck mate!!!

    June 11, 2010 at 5:51 am | Reply
  11. Mikael Lemon

    Ya, me to. I will also try to se all (even that Sweden do not play). Nothing gather people in the world toghter in a more peacefull way then fotball.

    / Mikael, Sweden

    June 11, 2010 at 6:13 am | Reply
  12. Herb

    My goal (if I can call it that) is to AVOID every single one of the 64 matches. Including highlights on the news. If necessary by shutting my eyes, and saying "LALALA" very loud.

    But I hope you enjoy yourself, Matthew!

    June 11, 2010 at 7:03 am | Reply
  13. SaraC

    Me too. I also took vacation in 2006 around the games, got up at 1:30/2:30 am to go watch in a bar with others and then up again at 5:30 am for the next. Good luck to you. After 4 long years, it's on!!!!

    June 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  14. eric

    Why keep CNN calling football for soccer ?
    USA is the only country in the world ( + a few towns in Ireland)
    that call world-football for soccer.

    Why are you pressing on US names on us ?
    Your football is American football and our football is World football.
    Very simple.'
    You are CNN ... INTERNATIONAL .... right ?

    June 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  15. chime

    i salute ur zeal. Even though i am in africa, ill be watching the matches at home too but not new zealand and slovenia. some of us that could not make it south africa wuld be enjoying the fun from the privacy of our sitting rooms and even though my husband hates football does more basketball and NFL, ill make sure i make a whole lot of noise to celebrate my africa hosting.Kudos.

    June 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  16. Rajesh

    Good man !! Would like catch up after WC if u were able to achieve it. I am from India, I support Argentina and have plans to watch all matches... btw whats so wrong with NZ and Slovakia ?? Btw may Argentina win Cup .... I have a Brit bro in law ... wont make him too happy tho....

    June 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  17. Daniel Turner

    I might have been a bit too optimistic in my initial comment here. A rather large obstacle has occurred, or at least it seems so to me. Namely, the vuvuzela-pipes maddening vzzzuuuuuuuu murdering my ears throughout the whole game. I hope your tolerance level for annoying sounds is higher than mine, or maybe you even enjoy it? If you don't, I made some calculations and reached the conclusion that you will have endured 5760 minutes of ear-torment when your noble quest is done.

    Once again, good luck from Sweden.

    June 11, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  18. Shubhranshu

    I can do this over this weekend... pity there's Monday coming up.. Anyway All best

    June 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  19. Colin

    Actually it is called soccer in Japan as well. They also use the word "Gasoline" not "petrol". A lot of Asian countries use U.S. words for things like that...

    June 13, 2010 at 5:34 am | Reply
  20. faisalali

    Football Game Is Out Standing in Whole World.

    June 14, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  21. Praisezonic

    Football is good, we love it in liberia but, don't have the support.
    i which i could in SA to see the game

    June 14, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  22. razak zainal

    U got my vote for nxt FIFA presidency...
    .We are rooting for u..

    June 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  23. Noah Ochomo

    Well, not that difficult here in Kenya. I work 8 hrs, watch all the matches and still sleep for at least 6 hrs every night!

    June 16, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Reply

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