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Chinese football in media doghouse again after Wang Dalei outburst

Shenhua's number 1 - Wang Dalei, aka Big Thunder King

“You’re just a bunch of dogs” was Chinese national team keeper Wang Dalei’s response, via his microblog, to fans’ abuse after his goalkeeping error contributed to China’s 0-3 reverse at the hands of old enemy Japan at the Asian games.

Those words were amongst other choice outbursts in the aftermath of Monday’s game. Controversial stuff, at least, as far as the Chinese football world is concerned. But dissapointingly, the widespread international media coverage this story has gotten is, predictably, way out of proportion.

A Google news search contained over 213 articles on the story, which is about an under-23 match taking place in a competition considerably less relevant than even Olympic football. Granted, any match in any sport against Japan is certainly of huge significance for China, but otherwise this game would not have even been mentioned by the vast majority of these 213 news sources had it not been for Wang Dalei’s indescrete remarks.

Not only that, but AP, an otherwise reputable news agency which ought to be free of spin or sensationalism, described the Shanghai Shenhua keeper as the “tattooed bad boy of Chinese soccer.”


Wang does not have a past record of bad behaviour – seems AP thought that would make a nice catchy intro. Play fast and loose with someone’s professional reputation why not? Anyone involved in corrupt-and-horrible old Chinese football must automatically qualify for bad-boy status right?

The story goes on to say Wang’s behavior ‘is a new low for soccer in China’ – hardly. I don’t think remarks made in the heat of the moment after losing to your most hated rivals are as bad as having referees and top Chinese FA officials jailed for taking bribes. Antia Chang, your standard of journalism is a joke.

Of course anyone can see why Wang’s diatribe caused such offence. But your correspondent thinks that is simply shows Wang cares about putting in a good performance and it took balls to just speak his mind. And he is certainly not wrong in pointing out that there are many inside and out Chinese football who continue to kick it when it is down.

Oh and by the way. A lot of media thought they were clever saying Wang Dalei translates as “Big Thunder”. They missed a trick – include his surname and he becomes “Big Thunder King.”

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.

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