(Bloomberg) — China’s foreigner-laden hockey team won over the nation’s fans after a narrow loss to one of the world’s top squads, with social media users calling them “glorious” and “victorious” failures and questioning why the country’s much-maligned men’s football team couldn’t show the same fighting spirit.
Down by three pucks midway through Saturday night’s Olympics matchup against Germany, ranked 5th in the world, China got on the board with Canada-born Parker Foo knocking in the nation’s first-ever goal, followed shortly by another score from Tyler Wong, also a Canadian. Chinese fans, who were warned before the start of the Games not to cheer due to the coronavirus pandemic, started ignoring the directive with chants of “Jiayou.”
Even though China lost the game 3-2, its second defeat at the Winter Games after an 8-0 loss to the US, social media applauded the efforts of the squad, with more than a dozen of its 25 members either Americans or Canadians from Kunlun Red Star, a team that plays in Russia’s professional hockey league. The topic and hashtag #China men’s hockey team lost to Germany# got more than 1.7 million reads on Sunday. Even state broadcaster China Central Television got in on the praise, posting: “What an intense and brilliant game! Our ice hockey will become stronger step by step, come on!”
Prior to the Games, there had been calls from hockey purists not to allow China to take part in the hockey competition amid concern they could lose by such lopsided scores that could set back efforts to develop the sport in the country.
“I think it definitely was a bit of a statement and it was just good to see that they competed and made a game out of it,” said Jon Howse, a former professional hockey player who teaches the sport in Beijing. “It is kind of a victory in a way.”
One Weibo user couldn’t resist using the occasion to get a dig in on the national men’s soccer team, which has received unrelenting scorn after its 3-1 loss to Vietnam in a World Cup qualifier earlier this month, posting: “@China football team. Come see what’s glorious failure.”
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