Chinese government cracks down on wisecracks

[OFF THE POST] The International Herald Tribune reports that China's Propaganda Department has ordered Chinese media to stop bashing China's men's soccer team, which exited in the first round in the Olympics. It also had two players ejected: one for kicking an opponent in the groin and the other for throwing an elbow. While even China's captain mocked the team -- "We play soccer like the Brazilians play Ping-Pong" -- the Chinese press has criticized it to such an extent that the Central Propaganda Department reportedly "demanded that the press not overly quip or sneer at the Chinese men's soccer team."

At the Olympics, China lost to Brazil and Belgium and tied New Zealand.

 

China spent $40 billion on hosting the 2008 Olympic Games and its athletes won a record 51 gold medals. But soccer is hugely popular and the men's team's disappointment launched an avalanche of criticism from the media.

Two Chinese journalists said the media has been told to tone it down.

The IHT quoted one sports reporter as saying, "You can't stop criticism of the men's soccer team. Everyone hates the team."

"In fact, Brazilian ping-pong is not weak," said its Olympic team coach, Wei Jianren, a former China international player. "Brazilian Ping-Pong is not among the top ones in the world, but it's in the leading position in the Latin America region."

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