Chinese broadcaster apologises for anti-Aussie call

A China Central Television sports announcer faxed an apology from Germany to the home audience yesterday for his over-the-top commentary in the last few minutes of Monday's World Cup match between Italy and Australia. "I put too much personal emotion into my live comments," Huang Jianxiang said in his apology, which was read on the air by a Beijing anchorman last night and posted on the station's website. "I am sorry for the discomfort and hurt I brought to everybody," he said.

Huang admitted in his letter that he was supporting Italy, which won the match on a penalty shot in the final minute. He had covered the Italian league for many years and hoped the Italian national team would advance into the cup's quarterfinals. "Long live Italy!" he screamed and "No more chances for Australia!"

After the game was over with Italy blasting home a controversial penalty, Huang justified his hysteria by saying that he had never liked Australia. "The reason?", commented Wang Yong in the Shanghai Daily; "Australia is now a member of the Asian Football Confederation, which means China will face one more rival in any future games. It's ok for Huang to have a favorite team. But it's unforgivable for him to hate Australia simply because it will be our rival."

According to Reuters, after the match Huang had said he could not remember what he had said in the heat of the moment and his preference for Italy was because he had commentated on Serie A for many years. "I'm more familiar with Italian players ... and I don't like Australians indeed," he said. "I was hoping they'd do badly here ... "

CCTV later repeatedly aired footages of Australia's failed attempts at goal with a subtitle hailing "Australia bows out like a true hero."