SBSBSBSBSBSBSB! Please Don't Arrest Me!

While it may be frustrating being a fan of Chinese soccer, and especially frustrating being a Beijing Guoan fan, it is not worth going to jail. Then again, it would allow you to avoid watching the games. Soccer supporters are a crazy group, read this article to find out just how crazy. I am a rabid Arsenal fan, but it doesn't have the hold on me it once did, mainly because no matter what, I'm so far away from North London at the end of the day. Plus, when the EPL is wrapping up, there is the fresh hope of a new season for Guoan and equal amounts of disappointment as the Blackhawks once again fail to miss the playoffs. Sorry about the aside, I just really wanted to throw in that great article by Adrian Chiles. Perhaps I will have more on that at a later date.

Back to the subject...Sporting fans the world over, if they are lacking in one area, it is culture (at least when inside the stadium). Philly fans booing and pelting Santa Claus with snow balls, Rangers fans whistling during a moment of silence for the Pope, basketball fans taunting Steve Kerr about his father, etc. Beijing fans are extremely passionate and when they get mad, instead of hearing boos, the "Jing Ma" comes out. One blogger (i'm only calling him out because he came from nowhere to kick my ass in the chinalyst blog voting) incorrectly said the habit of going to the stadium and booing is "jing ma," when any true fan (or anyone who speaks Chinese and has spent anytime in Beijing or has at least a bit of knoweldge about the city) would know that this term refers to "sb."

For whatever reason, this is considered absolutely unacceptable to those in charge of Guoan and the Beijing government. It started out by idiotically putting up banners calling for Workers Stadium (or Gongti) to be a "cultured" venue. When that attempt quickly proved pointless, they started playing a recorded track of fan cheering whenever the "sb" chants started getting too loud for their liking. It's not like it wasn't obvious to everyone in the stadium what was being said by the person sitting a few seats down from them and it was simply laughable, killing the hard work of the fan groups that put a lot of time into organizing the supporters sections.

Now they've given up both of those and are just starting to arrest fans, at least that's the case for one individual who made the mistake of using the internet to try and organize other rowdier elements amongst the fans. Booing, fan anger, and even the sb chants are ordinary, foreigners and foreign reports expect that sort of thing at a sporting event. "Clean words" are simply not required at sporting events, especially ones as emotional as a soccer match. Similar to what Imagethief talked about in his post on the Olympics, people expect that sort of thing, it is the absence of it, and China's heavy handed response in cases like this, that will appear strange and make these games feel "staged." I'm confident the Beijing Olympics will show the good aspects about Beijing and China as a whole, I just hope that they'll give up this wishful thinking and deal with more concrete problems.

PS: This is what happens when you blog late at night, sloppy writing and missing out on ideas. My original post was motivated by my anger as a Beijing sports fan at the stupidity of this and also as a Beijinger who wants to see these Olympics turn out great and is fearful of some who want to turn this into the Potemkin Games, which is simply impossible to do in the 21st century. To Beijing, and we shall love you, just the way you are.

What the article doesn't say is that there aren't any matches going on in Beijing now, so it would appear the man in question was arrested by police solely for internet posts. He wasn't arrested for booing and swearing, he was arrested for his intent to boo and swear. The booing and swearing is fine, its this sort of thing that make hairs stand up on the back of Western reporters (and their readers) necks. Arrested for the intent to boo? What law did he actually violate? As a lawyer, this is wrong in so many ways. There is probably some catchall about disturbing the peace or indecent behavior, but he didn't do anything in public, it seems he never even went beyond the intent stage. The police, however, don't need a law, the local government starts a campaign pushing for a more cultured populace and the police are then free to round up rabblerousers like this kid and put some fear into them to get their point across.

1 comment:

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