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Tea Leaves

Watching sports is just not the same

In Asia and England, soccer fans face the same loss of shared experience

The Everton Supporters Club of Malaysia usually gathers at a bar in Kuala Lumpur when matches are aired, but the bar has been closed during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Lynn Choo)

For an English soccer fan living in Asia, one of the great comforts is the popularity of English football throughout much of the region. Head to a bar on a Saturday evening in Shanghai, Bangkok or Seoul and even if you cannot speak the local language you can participate in one of the world's most common shared activities: watching the English Premier League -- the globe's most popular domestic soccer competition -- on a big screen with local fans cheering on their teams.

There is a special thrill in watching the fast-paced action taking place in the English winter, with the players' breath visible on a cold  afternoon, while sitting on the other side of the world wearing shorts in a warm, open bar. Another benefit of being a long-distance spectator in Asia is that more English games are broadcast live than in England, so if one game is poor you can swivel on your stool or move to another screen to watch a different match.

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