Soccer Game in Beijing–Experiencing JingMa

Soccer fans in Beijing really shocked me tonight

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I was never a soccer fan, especially after I had watched an Australia Football game on TV. However, when my girl friend invited me to watch a soccer game between Beijing Guoan and Zhuangzhou Fuli, I accepted with paramount pleasure, for neither the games nor the players, but for the fans.

Beijing football fans are so famous for their Jing Ma (Beijing Taunt)—during game, they would chant cursing words whenever there is an offence, or when they are unhappy with the referee’s penalties, or even when there is a change of player in the opposite team. Few years ago there has been measures taken by the Chinese Football Association to curb such “un-civilised” behaviour, but spontaneous outlet of emotions and deeply rooted culture were hard to control. So they decided to let it be. It should be noted that actually “Beijing taunt” is a rather biased term because it is not only the Beijing people who are cursing during the game—most soccer fans do, but Beijing fans only stand out because of the way they do it: united and constant, they  chant like well-trained chorus members dressed in green, the colour of Guoan.

Beijing Guoan is one of the top team in the Chinese Super League (CSL). Established since 1992, it ranked 2nd place in 2011 among the 16 clubs in CSL. Beijing people were proud and supportive, and they did not hesitate in showing their feelings. I was having dinner at Sanlitun at 6 pm when I saw floods of people were gathering at the Workers’ Stadium. However, I did not enter the stadium until after dinner, so I missed the national anthem as well as the first half. As I entered the stadium after walking across two rows of special police, I saw that the whole place was filled with fans in green shirt! Most were on their feet, some were cheering, some were shouting, some were blowing their green trumpets. Everything seemed just like what we usually saw on TV, until the referee blew the whistle. Then there was an abrupt quietness in the stadium followed by an outbreak of swearing: “Sha-Bi, Sha-Bi, Sha-Bi…”from the stands—loud, rhythmic and unified, their voices echoed under the dark sky of Beijing. They must have repeated that five to six times before their voice died down and the symphony of shouting, cheering and horn-blowing restarted.

Sha Bi, in Chinese, is among the worst swearing one should ever use. Literally, “Sha” means stupid, and “Bi” means cunt. Standing in the crowd, I tried to ignore the severity of the word and its power to insult and irritate, but the constant cursing occurred again and again whenever the Guangzhou team posed a threat, made an offence and even when they made a change.  Guoan fans chanted relentlessly as if they were driven by a horrifying sense of collectivism that had blinded their mind and soul. I believed that Guoan Fans meant no harm, and I hoped the players in Guangzhou team would hold the same belief as well.

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