China suspends goalkeeper after tirade
The tattooed bad boy of Chinese football had a message for his critics after the team's opening loss to Japan at the Asian Games, but his candor earned him a suspension.
"It would be flattery to call you fans. You're just a bunch of dogs," the 21-year-old goalkeeper Wang Dalei posted on his microblog after Monday's 3-0 loss. "You bunch of morons are the main reason why Chinese football can't make progress. You throw in stones after a man has fallen into a well."
By Wednesday, Wang's comments had been deleted from his Twitter-like microblog, which has 80,000 followers, but bloggers had been busy reposting screen shots of the offensive messages.
Chinese officials didn't respond quickly to his outburst, announcing the suspension after the brash goalkeeper, whose name means 'big thunder,' was benched for China's 2-1 comeback win over Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday night.
Wang was "ordered to meditate on his action," the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Cai Jiadong, secretary general of the Chinese Asian Games delegation, as saying.
The length of the ban was not announced.
Cai said Wang, one of the country's most promising young players who trained with Inter Milan in 2006, was repentant and admitted that his online outbursts "hurt the feelings of Chinese soccer fans and tarnished the image as a national soccer team player."
The barrage from Wang had shocked football fans, the latest episode to highlight the sorry state of the sport in China. Dismal play is the norm and fans have been turned off by the game that is still struggling to recover from scandals that revealed deeply ingrained corruption.
An error by Wang led directly to a goal in the loss to Japan on Monday. He jumped at a cross and parried the ball with both hands — straight to a Japanese attacker who easily slotted in the goal. A commentator on state broadcaster China Central Television joked, "Wang Dalei made a poor decision, he looks like a setter in volleyball."
Wang's first online post called fans dogs and challenged them in explicit terms to make their criticisms to his face. Another was written in a rap-style rhyme, saying "Now you guys come out and try to make peace, but your IQ is way below the range."
After telling reporters Tuesday that he "really didn't care about this thing" and suggesting he "didn't really say any dirty words," Wang issued a third blast.
"I heard there's more than 7,000 football journalists in China, and I estimate at least 4,000 of them hate football," he wrote. "I'm not Spiderman. When opponents score, I'm a moron, when I make a save, I'm still a moron. I wonder if you guys are stressed out at work and taking it out on me."
The behavior is a new low for football in China, where players have been accused of throwing games, taking bribes and picking fights with opponents.
"We've gotten used to the downward spiral of Chinese football," Xinhua News Agency reporters Li Zheng and Yue Dongxing wrote. "But when we saw Wang Dalei's rude curse on his microblog and his I-don't-care attitude, we're still shocked. A man with such a low moral standard should be despised by the public, how does he deserve the wear the national flag on his chest?"
One of the few positives from Monday's loss was the lack of any clashes between Chinese and Japanese fans.
Political tensions between the countries have been high after a collision in September between a Chinese fishing boat and Japanese government patrol vessels near a chain of disputed islands. Anti-Japan protests flared in cities across China for a few weeks and security was high at the game on Monday.
"I don't think there will be any problem in any other matches between China and Japan," Xiao said. "There won't be any tensions, just fair play and I'm sure if Japanese athletes perform very well our spectators will applaud for them."
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