How much does soccer-loving China hate its men’s national team?
The mostly empty hotel lobby that greeted the team on June 12 when it checked in before a game against Thailand was one measure -- especially in a country where national athletes, even in minor sports, receive adoring attention from fans. The many bare seats at the stadium in Hefei where the game was played on June 15 were another sign. But perhaps the biggest display of disdain followed the Chinese squad’s 5-1 lossto a team that had replaced seven members of its roster with youth players. A sizable number of fans found their way down to the team bus and blocked it from leaving while chanting furiously, sometimes obscenely, about the coach, the team and the human anatomy they all resemble. A riot ensued, injuring at least 100 people, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.