Huang Jianxiang, one of the most famous voices to Chinese youths
and the country's top sportscaster, has become a bull's-eye of
online rumors and pranks since he caused a nation-wide uproar for
his Forza Italia outburst during the World Cup soccer finals.
The search engine of popular Chinese Internet portal Sina.com
registers over one million items on the China Central Television
(CCTV) commentator, including fabricated news on his private life
and a dozen of short films mocking at his passionate,
straight-talking style which has won him as many detractors as
One short film, "China Wins the World Cup!", parodied Jackie
Chan, the Chinese team and Huang's overzealous rant during Italy's
victory over Australia in a World Cup knock-out match.
"I really don't care about these Web rumors and spoofs," Huang
told the Xinhua reporter in a dimly-lit, no-smoking cafe in east
Beijing. "What is really annoying me is that a lot of print
newspapers carry fake news about me. They have never interviewed or
called me. Where did my quotes come from?"
"I am just paying the price of being famous," he added.
Huang isn't the only celebrity victim of Internet mockery.
Web spoofs have become so popular that Chinese have even coined
a new slang term, "e-gao," to describe the act of using real film
and sound clips to create mocking send-ups.
Among recent spoofs was a 20-minute short titled "The Bloody
Case of the Steamed Bun," using clips from director Chen Kaige's
big-budget epic "The Promise." Chen has filed a court complaint
against spoof author Hu Ge.
As one of the best-known TV hosts and the most knowledgeable and
passionate soccer commentator in China, Huang still can't hide his
preference while going on air.
While commentating the Italy-Australia game in June, Huang
wasunable to control his enthusiasm when Italian Fabio Grosso went
down in a challenge and a last-minute penalty was converted.
"Goooooal! Game over! Italy win! Beat the Australians!" he
shouted. "Italy the great! Left back the great! Happy birthday to
(Paulo) Maldini! Forza Italia!
"(Guus) Hiddink ...lost all his courage faced with Italian
history and traditions... He finally reaped fruits which he had
sown! They should go home. They don't need to go as far away as
Australia as most of them are living in Europe. Farewell!"
The overzealous comments immediately drove his audience to two
rivaling camps - one rooting for his passion and the other
demanding his resignation.
Huang, who next day apologized for "inappropriate comments which
upset and hurt the audience", said on Friday that the hoarse
outburst was just "a technical mistake".
"If I hadn't shouted in a hoarse voice, the problem wouldn't
have been so serious. Reviewing the recording, I don't think I
stepped over the line too much," Huang said.
"Having commuted among seven out of 12 World Cup venues and live
broadcasted 20 games, I was tired and lost my voice. I shouted
because the broadcast seats were too noisy and my Spanish and
Brazilian counterparts were all screaming, making me hardly able to
hear my own voice."
Huang, who has broadcasted Italy's Serie A for seven years and
Germany's Bundesliga for 12, said he didn't have a favorite
"I don't support any specific team. I prefer teams who play
beautifully over those playing a boring, defensive or destroying
game," he said.
It wasn't the first time that the Foreign Affairs University
graduate walked into the epicenter of controversy with on-air
Huang, who is candid enough to speak his mind, was accused of
departing from journalistic objectivity as he questioned the
competence of China's foreign coaches Bora Milutinovic and Arie
Haan even when they were at the height of their popularity.
Huang poured a bucket of cold water on Milutinovic and joyous
Chinese after the Chinese team qualified for the 2002 World Cup
finals, saying the Serbian coach was just lucky and Chinese soccer
didn't make real progress.
China qualified from an easy Asian qualifying tournament that
excluded its arch rivals South Korea and Japan, which had secured
World Cup berths as co-hosts.
"Everyone hailed Milutnovic as an omnipotent superhero. I didn't
think so. He was just the luckiest ever head coach of the Chinese
team," Huang said.
The Chinese team experienced a humiliating World Cup trip,
losing nine goals in three games and netting none.
After Milutinovic left, came less known Dutchman Arie Haan.
Again, Huang was the first to challenge China's Football
Haan failed to deliver a 2006 World Cup berth and was sent
As a strong advocate of "sports is a way of life", Huang seemed
upset when touching upon the lack of sports venues for ordinary
"When I saw over 40 people playing basketball in a fenced-in
outdoor court in downtown Beijing, I was shocked and sad," he
"Why build so many buildings? Why not build more soccer fields,
basketball courts, tennis courts? Or just leave a level ground
there for kids to play on."
Huang said he was disgusted at "No Ball Game" sign in Chinese
The flamboyant sportscaster blamed the declining physiques of
school students on academic pressure and being less sports-active
than students 20 years ago.
"When I was a student, I played a lot of soccer and other ball
games," said the 38-year-old Huang. "But students nowadays have to
spend hours on homework after school and have no time for
"Schools and parents should take it easy on children and give
them more time to play."
Taking a sip of lemon juice (he doesn't smoke or drink), Huang
said he was saddened by the latest results of polling agencies
proving Chinese students were less fit and healthy than a decade
"Many TV viewers, including young students, told me they like to
watch sports games but they don't play sports. Sports should be a
part of life, like eating and sleeping. I told them to play more
soccer, basketball, volleyball, any games but Internet game," said
Huang, who plays soccer with friends as least once a week despite
"I have a packed schedule that includes over 200 live broadcasts
every year, but I still find time to play soccer," he added.
Huang calls for Chinese and international enterprises, which
never hesitate to sponsor star athletes and gold-winning national
teams with big money, to build more sports facilities for the
"When you are slicing up the Chinese sports market, you are
obliged to give something back to general public," he said.
China's per capita sports venues is less than one square meter,
expected to rise to 1.4 by 2010, according to the statistics
provided by the State General Administration of Sport.
Huang's concern echoed that of Chinese sports chief Liu Peng,
who has admitted China's per capita sports facilities, sports
consumption and the population engaged in regular physical
exercises are far lower than developed countries, although the
country has witnessed rapid development of sports undertakings.
"Since Beijing won the bid for the 2008 Olympics, especially
after China finished only second to the United States on gold medal
count in the Athens Olympics, many people see China as a world
sporting power. I disagree," Huang said.
"Scandinavian countries don't collect many gold medals in the
(Summer) Olympics, but their peoples are strong and healthy and
they live sports and breathe sports. I think that is what a sports
power should be."
Huang, who has live broadcasted about 2,000 soccer games since
he was picked as one of five CCTV sports reporters from over
2,000applicants in 1994, has authored two books - "Teases on
Soccer" and "Fight Like A Man".
"Fight Like A Man - I'm Just A Soccer Program Host", which
records his personal experiences with sports, including three World
Cups, three Asian Cups, three European champions and three Summer
Olympics, has proven a big hit since hitting the shelf last May,
rated high in the non-fiction best-seller list.
When asked about the mission of his life, Huang was lost in
head-between-the-palms meditation. After a while, he raised his
head and said: "As long as I have microphone in my hand, I will
keep telling people sports is a part of life and it is never too
late to engage in sports."
(Xinhua News Agency September 11, 2006)