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Last Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Football 'helps men show emotion'
Football fans
Football fans can be touchy-feely
Football helps the toughest men show their softer side, a survey suggests.

Two-thirds of men questioned by the Mental Health Foundation said football made it easier for them to share their feelings with other men.

And 76% of the 500 men who took part in the online survey said they would not be embarrassed to hug their friends while watching a game.

But although most men admitted getting upset during a match, 75% said they had never cried over a game.

Traditionally, men are far less likely than women to share their innermost thoughts
Dr Andrew McCulloch
Mental Health Foundation

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Dr Andrew McCulloch said: "It is encouraging that football makes it easier for men to talk about their feelings as, traditionally, men are far less likely than women to share their innermost thoughts.

"It is important that men feel able to express their emotions in whatever way they find most comfortable."

The survey of attitudes to the World Cup also shows men may not be as obsessed with football as is generally believed.

Almost two-thirds would happily miss England playing in the tournament to have sex and only 27% said they would bunk off work to watch a match.

And 86% said they would rather be at the birth of their first child than watch England play in the World Cup Final.

Physical activity

Watching the World Cup this year should also make men more active, with 70% believing that playing football is better than watching it and 34% planning to play more football because of the tournament.

However, 59% of respondents, aged between 18 and 70, said they expected to drink more alcohol because of the World Cup, which the charity warned could lead to anxiety and depressive thoughts.

Dr McCullogh said: 'Socialising and talking about your feelings are vital for good mental health and well being, as is exercise.

"It's uplifting to know that about a third of those questioned are planning to play more football because of the World Cup."

Northumbria University's head of psychology, Dr Sandy Wolfson, said: "Football does have positive effects on people's psychological well-being.

"It gives people a ready-made topic of conversation where opinions on team selection, strategy, and players' skills are enjoyable topics for debate.

"Many people have made good friends and even met their spouses through football."

The Mental Health Foundation is the leading UK charity working to improve services for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.

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