Chinese soccer commentator Huang Jianxiang apologized on Tuesday to TV viewers for his biased comments in World Cup game between Italy and Australia.
Chinese sports commentaror Huang Jianxiang. (Photo source: sina.com)
CRI Special: FIFA World Cup 2006 / Your Say
Huang, working with national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), dumped his normal objectivity as he shouted "Long Live Italy" and "I don't like Australia" when Italy knocked out Australia on a last-minute penalty shot to reach the quarter-finals.
"In the last minutes of the Italy-Australia game last night, I added too much personal emotion to my comments," said Huang's apology letter which was read out by World Cup host Zhang Bin Tuesday night.
"I reviewed the tape after I woke up this morning and felt some comments were inappropriate and biased, which upset and hurt the audience. I apologize," Zhang continued.
Huang admitted he had departed from objectivity as a commentator and failed to control his enthusiasm as a long-time supporter of Italian soccer.
"I am familiar with Italian soccer and hoped Italy would advance to make the quarter-finals more competitive ... I will control my feelings and try to be a fair, impartial commentator," said the letter.
CCTV repeatedly aired footages of Australia's failed attempts at Brazilian goal Tuesday night, with a subtitle hailing "Australia bows out like a true hero."
Huang lost his cool as Francesco Totti scored a penalty in the last minute to give 10-man Italy a 1-0 win over Australia.
The 38-year-old Huang screamed "Penalty! Penalty! Penalty!" as Italian defender Fabio Grosso tumbled over Lucas Neill's challenge in the Australian box.
"Grosso made it! He made it! Don't give Australia any chance! Great Italian left back. Grosso alone represents the long history and traditions of Italian soccer. He is not fighting alone," he shouted.
"Totti! He is about to take the shot. He shoulders the expectations of the whole world.
"It's a goal! Game over! ... Italy didn't fall to (Guus) Hiddink's team this time (Hiddink had led South Korea to oust Italy in the 2002 World Cup). Happy birthday to Paolo Maldini (born on July 26)! Long Live Italy!"
Huang then turned to the Socceroos: "Go home! But they don't need to fly back as far as to Australia because most of them live in Europe. Bye-bye."
"Biased and crazy as he is, Huang Jianxiang has to quit as a soccer show host," a netizen named Ximen Yidao posted on Xinhuanet.com.
Popular Chinese portals such as Sina.com and Sohu.com's online discussion forums were flooded with messages about Huang's outburst on Tuesday. More Web surfers criticized Huang than those siding with him.
"Huang went too far," said a message on Sina. "He shouldn't praise a bad-playing Italian team and jeered at a brave squad, defeated though."
While Australia coach Hiddink disputed Italy's last gasp penalty which killed Australia's World Cup dream, Huang said Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo's decision was wise.
"It was an undisputed penalty," shouted Huang in the last minute of the game.
Huang was unapologetic for his controversial comments in the post-game linkup with the Beijing newswroom.
"I am a human being, not a machine, and I can't be impartial all the time," he said.
"Australia reminded me of a lousy team which eliminated China in the World Cup qualifiers in 1981. Australia is just like New Zealand team that beat us in 1981.
"It (Australia) is full of neutralized Australians who play and live in Britain. I don't care about the Australian team and don't want to see Australia have good results in the World Cup.
"Australia (which has joined the Asian Football Confederation) now will fight for an Asian World Cup berth and it may not be good enough to handle South Korea and Japan. But it will very likely take advantage of the Chinese team. So I don't like it."
Beijing newsroom host Zhang Bin tried several times to interrupt Huang to avoid further damage, but Huang rattled on until the linkup was severed.
Chinese TV hosts' preferences can be easily heard and seen. In the 2002 World Cup, CCTV hostess Sheng Bin stunned an audience of millions as she openly wept at Argentina's early exit.