Weeks can’t get much worse than the one Jiang Zhipeng has just experienced. First the defender was lambasted by the public for a defensive error that led to the goal that looks to have ended China’s hopes of qualifying for the football World Cup. Then his wife launched a vitriolic attack on social media, claiming that the reason for the mistake was that his mind was elsewhere – specifically on a woman she alleges is his mistress.
Things started to go awry last Tuesday when China travelled to Iran for a make or break game. The national team lost 1-0 and Jiang was blamed for the goal, having headed the ball to an Iranian player rather than knock it out for a corner.
He was pilloried for the error in the Chinese media and online (though, to be fair, WiC has seen far more egregious defensive mistakes) and worse was to come when his wife Zhang Ziyue fired a cannonade of abuse at her partner.
“For nearly three and a half years out of our four year marriage, he was sleeping with other women and now he is trying to drive me to an early grave,” she fumed. Among other things, she demanded that he be dropped from the Chinese national team and likewise by his club side, Guangzhou R&F.
The South China Morning Post says that when Jiang appeared last Saturday for his club the “vilified” player was “booed throughout”, although it noted that the 28 year-old full back has denied his wife’s claims that he has a mistress.
Another footballer causing controversy last week was the former England and Manchester United star David Beckham. He was in the region as part of a promotional trip to Hong Kong. After meeting 5,000 insurance brokers (times must be tough…) Beckham posted a message on Facebook delighting at his “great 48 hours in China”.
This sparked a blizzard of invective from anti-Beijing activists in the city. Kinder remarks included “Hong Kong is not China” and “Please change to ‘Great 48 hours in Hong Kong’. We have our own government, currency, and football team”.
“No one cares about China. Hong Kong is not China and never will be,” a sterner comment read.
Always keen to protect his image, Beckham then updated his post to “Great 48 hours in Shanghai and Hong Kong”. But that just drew further fury from mainland Chinese angered that he was pandering to pro-independence Hongkongers.
“When I was about to give Beckham praise, I found that he had compromised to ‘Hong Kong independence’ elements and my favour for him immediately declined”, complained one patriot.
“So many Hong Kong idiots here, dreaming they will be independent, lol [laugh out loud]. David, you don’t need to edit your post, because you are totally correct, just ignore these trash and enjoy your holiday!” countered another.
Beckham clearly didn’t intend to wade into the former UK colony’s febrile politics but he may be advised to think more carefully when he posts about mainland China and Hong Kong in the future…
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