Fans rent their clothes and wailed at the Chinese national soccer team’s 5-1 loss against Thailand on June 15. So downtrodden is the team that coach Jose Antonio Camacho was fired this Sunday, cutting short his three-year contract.
But perhaps the despair of Chinese soccer fans has within it a kernel of hope. Their loss is a primal scream for the nation, a catharsis for rising housing prices, falling stocks, poisonous food, dirty air, forced demolitions, tainted water, and even the national college entrance examination–the dreaded gaokao. The national team may be hated, but therein lies its power–there, and in its immunity from “water meter checks.” “Quoting” poets real and imagined (the first quotation is from a poem by Gu Cheng, not Li Bai), cartoonist Zeeko finds reason to adore China’s much-maligned team, as they carry on a century-old “tradition” of victory in defeat.