The headlines from China that make their way into the sports sections of western media very often contain errors, falsehoods and sometimes just downright lies. Two rules of thumb: if it sounds too good to be true, it is; and be very, very careful with numbers. Here’s a selection of recent stories that have stretched the truth in various ways…
It pays to be skeptical in China — and that’s as true in sports as it is in economics. The so-called “Li Keqiang index,” a term originally coined by The Economist after it was revealed the Chinese premier prefers to gauge the economy using his own indicators instead of trusting official data, is well known. However, the figures bouncing around China’s sports sector are just as likely to raise eyebrows.
Just this week, a report from Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl — arguably the most connected man in US soccer — said that new LA Galaxy signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who dominated sports headlines last weekend after scoring a stunning goal in his MLS debut, had turned down nearly $100 million from a Chinese club to ply his trade in Los Angeles for the meager sum of $1.5 million per year.
But if it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.
The number comes from former Galaxy player — and now the club’s technical director — Jovan Kirovski, who most likely got his information from Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola.