Olympic bloggers award red card to China's woeful football performance


CHINA:THE BEIJING Olympics has had its share of scowling security officials, but the Games has prompted plenty of humour in the Chinese capital, especially online.

A fair proportion of it has been directed at the Chinese football team, described by one webizen as being "as tragic as a eunuch in a brothel", whose consistent failure to do well has made them the butt of national ribbing.

China is top of the medals table and it's widely agreed that the country is doing a fantastic job of staging the world's biggest sporting event - certainly on the sporting side. But the soccer team are a perennial disappointment in a football-mad nation.

After losing 0-3 against Brazil, following a 1-0 defeat against Belgium, which included a sending-off following a terrible kick by Tan Wangsong into the crotch of a Belgian player, the national team finished the Games in sorry style, yet again.

"The Chinese team just won two red medals," and "our soccer team won the gold in martial arts", two bloggers wrote.

Adjusting the words to the Beijing Welcomes You Olympic theme song, a new version says "Come play with us, our goal posts are wide and always open".

Another blogger jested: "Smoking will ruin your health. Watching Chinese soccer will ruin your life," and "no matter how bad you play, you can build your confidence here in China".

Another popular joke is based on the song You and Me, which graced the opening ceremony. If you say "you" and "me" in Chinese you get the words for "oil" and "rice", two of the commodities that have become expensive in China this year.

There has also been a lively if measured reaction to a photograph of 15 members of the Spanish Olympic basketball team, who are all pushing back the corners of their eyes to appear Chinese.

The "slant-eyed" photo ran in a Spanish newspaper advertisement, and has caused outrage as being offensive to Chinese people, especially angering the Chinese diaspora. Although this is the kind of racism that normally would provoke a strong reaction within China, the reaction has been calm so far, with netizens saying it was just a joke - a silly one, but a joke nonetheless.

Toronto Raptors star Jose Calderon issued an apology, saying Spain was a multicultural country and he had meant no harm, although he had possibly added to the insult, unintentionally, by insisting that "some of my best friends are Chinese".

The web postings include ironic commentaries about the coverage on China's state broadcaster, such as remarks comparing US record gold-medallist Michael Phelps to a bird in water. "What's a bird supposed to do in water?"

But the final word goes to the football fans. "Please dismiss the Chinese soccer team. Ask them to go and raise pigs instead."