Net fury at basketballer over bad fashion choice
Some Chinese basketball fans are calling for national team guard Zhao Rui to be banned from the team for life after a photo of him wearing a jacket featuring a US national flag was posted on social media and went viral on Monday.
The photo shows Zhao wearing a jacket in a hotel in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, while he was preparing to return to Beijing.
The photo was posted on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo social media platform with the subject “Zhao Rui wears a team USA jacket.”
It quickly became one of the most searched phrases with more than 110 million views.
Other photos circulating online show Zhao’s teammate, Zhai Xiaochuan, wearing a jacket with the Chinese national flag.
Basketball fans slammed Zhao for his alleged “traitorous” behavior.
The photo appeared as Chinese fans fumed over the national team being knocked out of the FIBA World Cup, which was hosted by China.
Many believe that the defeat in the tournament dims China’s basketball hopes at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“He should be kicked off the national team forever and seriously punished,” posted one typical user. “He should have known that he is a public figure representing China at an event with many cameras pointing at him.”
In response, Zhao posted “I’ve to try to be mature in the face of my unintentional behavior,” which was later deleted without explanation on Monday.
Before the picture went viral, he released another post on Monday in which he said he was looking forward to “fighting for the national flag on my chest,” but didn’t indicate which flag.
“So which national flag does he want to fight for? The US?” posted another internet user, who received more than 10,000 likes.
The two posts infuriated fans and then Chinese experts joined in.
Zhao’s behavior “damaged the public image of China’s national team and his subsequent response on Weibo also reflects his lack of a rigorous public consciousness,” An Yukang, a Beijingbased cultural critic, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
While there were many sports disputes over commercial sponsorship and portrait rights, Zhao’s mistake was “an error of principle,” An said.
“It is an essential quality for players to deal with those matters well,” he said.
Athletes should always remember that sports is a complicated field of public voices, An noted.
Born in 1996, Zhao is a promising guard who plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China Basketball Association. Zhao averaged 6 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game during the world cup tournament.