Friday, November 17, 2006

China's pro-Italian football TV commentator quits

A prominent Chinese football commentator has quit his job with state television months after a controversial anti-Australian rant during the FIFA World Cup in Germany, Reuters reported. Huang Jianxiang made headlines in June when he gave vent in front of an audience of millions to his disdain for Australia as they were knocked by a last-minute penalty by eventual champions Italy. "Goooooal! Game over! Italy win!. Beat the Australians! ... Italy the great! ... Happy birthday to Maldini! Forza Italia!" Huang screamed as Francesco Totti converted the penalty to send Italy into the quarter-finals. "The victory belongs to Italy, to Grosso, to Cannavaro, to Zambrotta, to Buffon, to Maldini, to everyone who loves Italian soccer!... (Australia) should go home. They don't need to go as far away as Australia as most of them are living in Europe. Farewell!"

He later apologised for the outburst, but his comments were so widely publicised they were made into a mobile phone ring tone. Jiang Heping, a sports channel manager at China Central Television (CCTV), told the Beijing Daily that the station had accepted Huang's resignation -- and that it was not related to the World Cup saga. "It is really regrettable for such a wonderful announcer to quit all of a sudden," the newspaper quoted Zhang Bin, a colleague, as saying.

Huang became a household name soon after he joined CCTV in 1994, at a time when Chinese viewers, new to sport on TV, were more used to staid announcers who did little more than read out players' numbers and names during a live broadcast.

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