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Editorial: Global Times should apologize to Beijing fans

After the Beijing Guoan match on Saturday night, an incident took place a block away from the stadium at a busy intersection in which a silver Jaguar with Tianjin license plates was attacked by alleged Beijing Guoan fans. I was close to the scene toward the end of the incident, but chose not to do a story on it because it seemed an isolated incident with little connection to football. Granted, it did involve Guoan fans, but I (and seemingly nobody else from the reports I’ve seen) did not see what started the whole incident. Anyone who has been in China for awhile knows how things like this can escalate with the wrong words being exchanged back and forth, and that’s what I suspect happened here.

That said, I was shocked when the Global Times released a very harsh editorial about the incident and “hooliganism”. Attacking the Global Times is low hanging fruit and in most cases is hardly worth it, but in this case, it’s a foreign writer from that bastion of journalism who produced the laughable piece. Fortunately for that writer, his article was in English or else there would be plenty of very pissed off people contacting the Global Times.

It’s the author’s turn of phrases and total lack of knowledge about the Chinese Super League that is striking. Statements like all Beijing Guoan fans should be “red-faced” or that “many” fans were arrested for smashing the car (in reality, the number was in single digits). Even the idiotic declaration that “cynical fans” may have believed the match was fixed (obviously the “journalist” didn’t watch the match). His insistence that fans paid almost RMB200 for a ticket further shows how little he knows as more than 20,000 of the fans paid RMB500 for their season tickets and the rest bought single tickets online for a maximum of RMB150 (only an out of the loop “laowai” would bother with scalpers for a match like this). I’m also riled by his belief that “Chinese soccer has become so preoccupied with throwing cash at aging star players to revive the sport”, a statement that is simply not true outside of Shanghai.

The article talks about security at Worker’s Stadium and in this he does make a good point, while there is a presence outside the stadium pre-match, once the match begins, its all focused on inside the stadium and once the match ends and the away fans (if any) are on their way, these forces dissolve. There is very little crowd control along Gongti North Road, though that is sure to change at the next match.

An actual journalist not serving as a tool of the Chinese Communist Party may see something different in the incident. Noting that the car attacked was a Jaguar and many of the Guoan football fans are young, working class types. With the difficulty to win in Beijing’s license plate lottery forcing Beijingers to buy cars in other cities, its hardly difficult to find Tianjin license plates around Worker’s Stadium. There’s also the interesting paradox that Worker’s Stadium serves as the venue of the “people” for football matches, but shortly after the match reverts into a play area for elites, chuppies, and expats.

Beijing has no problem attracting fans and families are seen all over Worker’s Stadium on a matchday. With Father’s Day having just past, it was an awesome sight to see all the young children inside Gongti Saturday night. What happened outside the venue was an isolated incident, over 40,000 people showed up for the match proving that Guoan is attracting plenty of well-behaved fans and that the league is nowhere near “spiraling into a weekend pasttime for thugs” and saying as much is an insult to Beijing’s great fans.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Yiddo Huayi

    20/06/2012 at 08:23

    Could you ask the laowai to post his piece on here and be prepared to debate his opinions?

    It is a lazy bit of journalism – one that I associate more with our tabloid style rags over here in the Antipodes. But then opinions in print are great because you don’t have to justify them.

  2. Arxtor

    20/06/2012 at 09:22

    In the contrary , the “Laowai” article is very pertinent despite a few minor errors. But truth can be ugly and not easy to listen…
    Also , to understand fully the purpose of the article which is to analyze where chinese football is pointing to, you have to be open minded and open to self criticism. But coming from someone once again who defines a foreigner as a “Laowai” ; you cannot expect too much I guess…

    • Yiddo Huayi

      20/06/2012 at 09:45

      Arf!

      I’m commenting from a couple of time zones away. But it’s great how football is always tarred with hooliganism (e.g. BBC – Ukraine – Euro 2012).

      Truth can be ugly, balanced perspective can be hard…

      BTW I’m a xiangjiao…

    • bcheng

      20/06/2012 at 10:36

      The article is full of errors and inconsistencies. Beyond that, pointing out one minor incident that involved tens of people has nothing to do with where Chinese football is going.

      The Global Times leads one to believe that hooliganism is rife in Beijing, yet this is the only incident it discusses, because its the only one that has taken place in years. With no understanding of what went down between the driver and the few individuals who were arrested, it’s hard to pronounce this as outright football related hooliganism. Worker’s Stadium is the safest place in Beijing on matchdays and tens of thousands of people attend matches there. Beijing is a shining example for the rest of the CSL to focus on, it has an amazing supporter culture that has nothing to do with throwing money at aging stars.

      I think you’ll find the writers of this blog to be very open minded and willing to take self criticism, but far too often people like this Global Times writer, who have no knowledge about the CSL, try to make grand pronouncements about the league.

      Finally, I don’t get your point about “laowai”. The vast majority of writers of this website are all laowai and there was a single mention of “laowai” above only because anyone who is a Guoan fan would have bought tickets online ahead of time where they were easy to purchase, or found one of the fan groups that sell tickets for face value around the stadium, instead of buying from scalpers (the only way you’d pay close to RMB200).

  3. shanghai ultra

    20/06/2012 at 11:45

    So a car was smashed outside Gongti. So what. There are hundreds of more significant events happening at any moment in China which are far more deserving of media attention. I sometimes think the Global Times is a rival to the Onion.

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