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2010 Relationships

Lucky Sindane/ Twenty Ten

Associated feature: Female Support

Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Women discuss the impact of the FIFA World Cup on their relationships.

It seems that Africa’s first FIFA World Cup has strengthened the relationship between men and women as wives and girlfriends have embraced the soccer fever. Instead of women losing their men for the month-long tournament, they have opted instead to go with their boyfriends and husbands to the stadiums and fan parks. But be warned gentlemen, the month is almost over.

Lerato Boshigo from Midrand said she clutches her partner like a handbag. “Despite all the negativity that people were saying about the World Cup and relationships, our relationship became stronger. We spent more time together as we are watching the 2010 FIFA World Cup games at the stadiums. We hardly spend any time at home as we also watch some matches at the fan fests. Sometimes it’s a little too much for me, but because it’s what he likes and enjoys I just have to bear with it for this month. As a woman, it’s hard for me to be out of the house most of the time because I believe in resting and relaxation.”

Boshigo goes on to say how the World Cup has affected their pockets. “We spent most of our money on the outings to watch the matches; and household expenditure has gone down. As a woman it’s hard to understand why we can spend so much money on this event which will only last for a month. This has caused a bit of tension in the relationship. My partner convinced me not to worry as this comes only once in our life time. Other than that, the World Cup has brought us closer. And I enjoy the park and walk moments; I don’t think we would be taking walks together if it wasn’t for the World Cup.”

Many South African women have been converted to football fans while their nation has played host to the great soccer tournament. Sandy Utete of Lonehill said she never used to be a football fan, but thanks to her husband she is one now. “I would watch football, but I wasn't this emotional about it. The World Cup has brought us closer because we watch almost all the games together and go to the after parties together for the whole night, so it’s nice at home,” she said, cracking up with laughter.

She continued: “When he’s not around I also hook up with my friends. I don't nag him because I know that we need space from each other once in a while. We have an understanding, it's all about communication, no need to fuss over things, just enjoy life like you used to when you were single. Sometimes in a marriage you have to compromise and accommodate each other's likes and dislikes.”

Utete’s sentiments were echoed by Boshigo: “When he is out with friends to watch the game, I try to catch up with my reading. I go visit friends, family and watch the game with them. Other than that, I take that long bath that he always complains about when he’s around. I do all the things that he normally complains about, including watching girly series’, surfing the net and lazing around”.

Sadly though for Mamello Makgana who lives in Naturena, her relationship with her partner has taken a back seat because she wasn’t included in any of the soccer plans he made. However, she has used the opportunity to catch up with her friends.

“The World Cup has helped me rediscover what it is I like doing in my free time like catching up with old friends, eating out and watching chick flicks. Just last night I watched, Why Did I get Married part one and part two. I was clutching a piece of damp tissue and had no-one complaining beside me. On days he watches football at home I sit and watch the game with him which turns him into both fan and commentator because he then has to explain some rules to me. This World Cup has been good to me, but my relationship has taken a back seat because we didn’t plan to go to the matches together or to the public viewing areas. He’s out for hours and leaves me to live the life of a single woman.”

Female fans make up a strong proportion of the crowd at fan fests throughout South Africa. However, if you ask them to name the 11 Bafana Bafana players, chances are they won’t know. The women are there for the atmosphere and many of them don’t normally follow football. But, thanks to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Lionel Messi, Giovani Dos Santos and Thierry Henry, they have something worth watching.

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