Huang Jianxiang , one of the most popular football commentators of China Central Television, or CCTV, has been in the center of a controversy recently seen in both the mainstream media and the blogosphere, for his overexcited comments during a World Cup playoff game, in which Italy won a 1-0 margin victory against Australia with a penalty kick in the last minute.
In the overtime of the match, when the presiding referee pointed to the pitch for the penalty kick, Huang's voice and tone suddenly became excited. His comments showed preference to Italy over Australia and used strong and emotional phrases like “Long Live Italy” and “Let Them (Australia) Get Lost.” Translation of his comments can be found here, the video here and audio recording here [zh].
Huang began his professional career as a football commentator in 1996, when he gained his reputation for passionate, sentimental and even poetic remarks during matches. His predecessors have all been of more standard, boring and indifferent types, a characteristic found in almost all Chinese state media personnel, especially news anchorpersons . He was suspended from duty for almost half a year in 2001, after he criticized Bora Milutinović, coach of China’s national team at the time, who went on to lead China into the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea for the first time ever in 2002.
Huang's sudden outburst can be accounted for by two factors: first he is long-time reporter and commentator for Series A game in CCTV and thus a loyal fan to Italian football. At the same time he loathes the Australia team for their inability to play a first-class football game.
In an open letter to CCTV spectators and football fans, read by his colleague and producer during the next day's World Cup-related program, Huang apologized for his mistake, namely “the injustice and prejudice of his comments, which caused discomfort and hurt to some of the audience”. The Chinese text can be found on his own blog:
Wish all fans great enjoyment of the games.
Rumor has been around on the Internet that an Associated Press story reported that about 30 Australian football fans have protested outside the Australian Embassy in Beijing, demanding the ambassador to ask the Foreign Ministry of China to punish Huang, whose comments have been regarded as insults to the national dignity of Australia. However the story is not confirmed by AP and might not be true. (via Danwei)
In an online poll of the incident, a overwhelmingly popular topic yesterday in the Chinese blogosphere, more than 70% of netizens surveyed supported that Huang should resume his duty in the remaining 10 matches in the World Cup. Despite extreme criticism and advocacy, one viewpoint prevailed among the discussion of blogosphere, as expressed by LaoBai, a former sports journalist on his blog: On one hand resentment over Huang's comments and on the other hand fear for CCTV's potential freezing of Huang's career.
Reowned Chinese blogger Wang Xiaofeng, a.k.a Milk Massage, analyzed the would-be psychological reasons for Huang's outburst. He thought the main weakness of CCTV's program host is that all their lack of personality. He also points out that Huang used the word like “Viva Forever” in his comments to reach the effect of free expression of his feelings and emotions, detached from its original denotative meaning of personal worship.