Reporting on the World Cup, this millennium and last


It's impossible to escape the World Cup in Beijing these days. Newspapers run hefty daily supplements, restaurants across the city have TVs blaring games and analysis, and those body-painted football babes are offered in editions with Chinese characteristics (more clothing, essentially).

There has even been some inspired, high-concept silliness: Southern Metropolis Weekly ran a 35-page feature on the 1096 World Cup. Part Outlaws of the Marsh pastiche, part veiled critique of China's contemporary football program, it featured game reports, an interview with commentator Su Dongpo (who thinks the finesse game is a fatal error), and football babe Pan Jinlian.

Other manufactured news has not been quite so good-natured. ESWN noted on Thursday the rash of fake interviews that the mainland media claimed to have conducted with football stars. Today, the Mirror's special correspondent in Germany reveals why reporters might be driven to write up fake interviews:

Staying in Germany, when I open my eyes every morning, the first thing I do is go online and look to see which Chinese reporters are crowing that they've gotten interview passes.

There are fewer than 150 Chinese reporters in Germany who have FIFA interview cards, but these cards don't necessarily mean that you have any more rights than football fans. Since China is not in competition, Chinese reporters are second-class citizens in the news center.

Germany, England, Italy - the mixer interviews and press conferences before and after those countries' matches definitely have no place for Chinese reporters, since even their home countries' reporters and those from the large international news agencies are lined up to get in.

Of course, there are a few lucky reporters who get tickets to watch the games, but there's a fellow in the reporters' contingent who sniffs at this: "What's there to see? Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down - might as well go to a bar and watch it on TV."

"Then what's the point of going to the field anyway?" I ask incredulously. He waves his ticket and says, "Can't waste it. 300 Euros - someone will want it."

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There are currently 1 Comments for Reporting on the World Cup, this millennium and last.

Comments on Reporting on the World Cup, this millennium and last

I am amazed to learn that China is not participating in the World Cup. What happened there???

As an American who's lived several years in Beijing and now traveling through Europe the impact of the World Cup is staggering. I e-chat with a Chinese man from time to time and last week was astonished to find him online at what for him was 3:30 AM--watching the world cup, he said.

The last evening I spent in Rome, Italy was playing and the restaurant we went to, normally abuzz and rocking with chatter because it is the best pizza place north of the Villa Borghese, was practically empty. So, we suddenly realized, looking down from the second storey terrace, was the normally traffic-snarled street. Not even a motorcycle.

Here in Amsterdam, a bar on my way home from the arts festival is painted orange to celebrate Netherlands' participation in the World Cup and orange banners flap from facades everywhere. All of Europe accommodates the distraction and good natured rowdyness. I'm not a sports fan myself, but I'm enjoying the fallout.

It just shows you how out of touch the States are...where we call football soccer and hardly pay any attention to it compared to other sports.

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