Zeng Rui gritted his teeth in anger. Those fucking assholes! He looked at Lin Feng who was seething with rage. Su Xue had stepped forward and was holding him back. I was already losing my temper! And I’m the calm one! He noticed Chu Fang stepping forward and stepped towards him. This is gonna spiral out of control if something doesn’t happen soon! Keep your cool, Zeng Rui! Come on! Be the leader! He exhaled sharply and then said, “Tang Tang is right. He…” he pointed at Seo, “… pushed the guy behind Tang Tang on purpose. Look at Tang Tang! This isn’t normal! And all we asked for was an apology! But that’s already too much for that asshole!”
Chu Fang knitted his brows. He looked at Team Guangzhou’s coach and said, “Coach Yin, right? What’s going on here?” He then turned his head to look at Tang Bingyao. There were four people huddled around her, blocking him from seeing the full extent of her injuries. But he judged by their reaction that she wasn’t too hurt. Still, this isn’t great. Far from it! We’ve got to play the Round of 16 tomorrow! If nothing else, the shock of this might hamper her! How could it have gotten this far!?
“Vice President Chu,” Coach Yin said, smiling. Keep smiling. Keep smiling. Seo made a mistake, but that’s besides the point right now. We’re playing tomorrow and the team needs to be in optimal shape for that. Take the pressure away from him. Let him focus. I’ll let Chu Fang be mad at me. Just need to be a bit careful. I need to show him some respect. He briefly grimaced before pushing forth an apologetic smile. He explained, “You saw how busy it got here. The organizers really didn’t think it through. We were all just trying not to get shoved to the ground and fighting for our own spot. Seo just got caught by someone else, lost his balance and that’s how all of this happened. Now let’s not make a big fuzz out of it. We’ve both got games to play tomorrow, let’s focus on that instead.”
Chu Fang scratched his head and replied, “You heard what my players are saying. They seem to think Seo did it on purpose, and I don’t know them as liars.” He nodded at Seo and continued, “Plus, he does look guilty.”
The smile disappeared from Coach Yin’s face. He pushed his chest forward and narrowed his eyes. Nice approach won’t work, huh? Go figure. Idiots from Shanghai! But this needs to end here. We’re not going to bow down in front of so many people! He said through gritted teeth, “You just got here. You haven’t the faintest idea what happened! Stop listening to those damn kids trying to act like something happened here. I’m telling you, my team members didn’t do anything wrong. I’m done with this charade.” He turned to his team members and ordered, “We’re going.”
“Wait, wait, one more thing,” Zeng Rui interjected. He looked at Coach Yin and chuckled in rage. You piece of shit! He took a deep breath and said, “You didn’t see it either. You weren’t here. All you know is what Seo told you–”
Chu Fang put his hand on Zeng Rui’s shoulder and shook his head. He whispered, “Enough.” He then looked back at Coach Yin and said, “You’re right. I wasn’t here. I didn’t see it happen. Fortunately, we’ve got CCTV recording everything happening here. Let’s go to the backroom and watch back the footage of what happened. We’ll take it from there. Sound acceptable?”
Coach Yin narrowed his eyes further and tried to come up with an argument, but couldn’t think of one. He then turned to look at Seo, who was following the conversation through the interpreter, and asked with his eyes if he really had pushed Tang Bingyao. Seo’s violent reaction to the mention of the CCTV footage said it all. Shit. SHIT! Why does this have to happen? Dammit! I can’t let this go on. We can’t have this show in front of so many people! Dammit Seo! Why did you… He took a deep breath to calm himself down. Then he smiled at Chu Fang and said, “There’s no need to review the footage for something so small. Seo here didn’t mean for any of this to happen. He was just feeling anxious and he might’ve–in his panic–pushed the people around him away. Claustrophobia is a serious issue. We shouldn’t take it lightly. Now, please, drop it. This isn’t helping any of us.”
“Look at her,” Chu Fang said, pointing at Tang Bingyao. “Look at her! You tell me, does that look normal to you? Is that something that just happens? You want me to drop this? How? We’re going to have to take her to a doctor most likely!”
Coach Yin raised both his eyebrows and asked, “What do you want me to say? I just told you. It was an accident, and accidents happen. It is very unfortunate for your player that this happened to her, but that’s really not one of my concerns. What else do you want me to say?”
“That you’re sorry!” Zeng Rui interrupted. “I want your ad-carry to say that he’s sorry for what he did to my teammate!” He turned to look at Seo and added in English, “Tell her you’re sorry!”
Seo glared at Zeng Rui and shouted back, “FUCK YOU! I told you it was an accident! Fuck off, whiny bitch!”
Coach Yin reached out to Seo and shook his head. He mouthed, “Quiet.” He then turned his head to look at Zeng Rui and glared at him before saying to Chu Fang, “Let this go, Chu Fang. The Guangzhou Esports Association invited Seo to play for us. He’s from Korea and our guest here in China. If you’re going to keep forcing this issue, there’ll be a lot more people unhappy with you than just me. Nothing happened here. Now stop making a scene. It reflects poorly on all of us.” He waved around him, showing that all of us included the fans who’d gathered around them.
The fans weren’t expecting to be pulled in like that. Nor did they like it. It was very obvious that Coach Yin insinuated that forcing this issue would reflect poorly on all Chinese people. They started voicing their disagreements.
“My big fat ass! What the fuck is wrong with you? All we want is an apology!”
“I’ve seen people getting protected before, but this? Holy shit! You guys are cunts!”
“Who the fuck cares if he’s Chinese, Korean or Dutch? He fucking shoved that girl to the ground! He needs to apologize for that! Stop fucking acting like nothing happened! WE ALL SAW IT HAPPEN!”
“Are you trying to give him immunity or something? What’s next? Are you going to say he needs to get a free win each series because he’s special like that?”
“STOP BUTTFUCKING YOUR PLAYERS!”
“Coach Yin, Coach Yin, his heart is a trash bin!”
“COACH YIN, COACH YIN, HIS HEART IS A TRASH BIN!”
Su Xue had redirected Lin Feng’s anger into care. Care for Tang Bingyao. He held her hand and lightly pushed to see where it hurt the most. She kept a straight face until he touched her pinky finger on her right hand. She grimaced and recoiled. He then inched closer to her face and searched for where the blood was coming from. It was a small cut just above her eyebrow and it had already stopped bleeding. He wiped away the blood with his shirt and then turned his head to look at Seo. His anger came rushing forth again. He slowly asked, “Are you really not going to apologize?”
Tang Bingyao tugged on Lin Feng’s arm and said, “Please, Lin Feng… I-I’m fine. I just want to go home. Let’s go back to the hotel…”
An Xin held Tang Bingyao and added, “Don’t do anything rash, Lin Feng. Please.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t,” Lin Feng assured. He let go of Tang Bingyao and walked up to Coach Yin and asked, “Your guest?”
Coach Yin frowned and replied, “Yes. He’s our guest. Treat him with some respec–”
“I’ve traveled to quite a few countries myself. The people there? They never gave me any kind of special treatment,” Lin Feng interrupted. He turned his head to look at Seo and said, “You think being a guest means the rules don’t apply to you? That you can just do whatever you want and not face the consequences? What’s next? Do we need to fall on our knees and thank you for your presence? Of course we won’t!”
Lin Feng bit on his lips and closed his eyes for a brief moment. He then opened them again and looked at Coach Yin. He continued, “Relationships aren’t one way streets! Yes, he’s a guest here and we’re the host. You’re completely right! We should be polite and welcoming. But him? That piece of shit over there?” he pointed at Seo “He should be respectful. He should be everything he’s not. And nothing of what he is. I’ve met many foreigners and I’ve become good friends with plenty of them, including Koreans. You know what they all have in common? They’re decent, better than decent human beings who know how to show each other respect. But you were talking about something reflecting poorly on us. Please, enlighten me. What exactly is reflecting poorly on us, all of us? The fact that you’re being a Class A asshole, or that he’s a Triple S-hole?”
“Y-y-you little brat!” Coach Yin yelled. His jaw trembled in rage. He pointed at Lin Feng and shouted, “Who taught you your manners!? You need to learn to respect your elders! This is no way to talk to me!”
“My parents taught me my manners,” Lin Feng countered. He looked Coach Yin in the eyes and said, “They taught me to only show respect to those who deserve it. You? You don’t. I will ask you again. Will you, both of you, apologize to my friend?”
Coach Yin was caught completely off guard by Lin Feng’s eruption. His mouth moved but there weren’t any words coming out. This gave the interpreter enough time to translate the exchange to Seo, whose expression turned progressively venomous. He glared at Lin Feng and said in English, “Fuck off! I don’t apologize to trash like her or you!”
“Alright. So be it,” Lin Feng said. He then suddenly looked Seo straight in the eyes and added, “You better hope you don’t draw us in this tournament. I’ve remembered your face, and I’ll make sure no one else will after I’m done with you.”
Chu Fang’s eyes went round. Oh crap! Don’t start threatening them! I know you mean inside the game, but not everyone knows you only think about League! He hurriedly said, “Come, come, let’s go! They’re not worth it.” He then turned around and started walking away.
“Wait,” Goalie said. He stepped out from behind Coach Yin and looked at Lin Feng. He then said through his interpreter, “You’re Team Shanghai’s Midlaner? I hope you have the skill to back up those big words.” He licked his rose lips and added, “Plus, you’ll be playing me, not Seo.”
Everyone recognized Goalie. The fans started whispering about who he was and about how high he’d climbed the Korean Challenger ladder. Even Zhang Hao couldn’t stop himself from taking a step back. Goalie was a legend at the Winter Collegiate Cup, the Guangzhou Esports Association had made sure of that. But all of this went lost on Lin Feng. He looked at Goalie, raised an eyebrow and asked, “And you are?”
Goalie’s pale face looked even paler than normal. His eyelids twitched and he clenched his fists in anger. He moved his lips, trying to fire back at Lin Feng but failing to come up with the words to do so. The silence was painful. It thundered in Goalie’s mind. He felt the stares from the fans around him. They were burning on his skin. And still no words would come from his mouth. Coach Yin eventually put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him towards the exit. He walked away with the rest of his team, still furious, still thinking about a rebuttal.
“Holy damn! And here I thought Goalie was cocky! Hahaha!”
“What a burn! Oh my god! That must’ve hurt so bad! Oh my god!”
“Fucking satisfying as fuck! Did you see his expression!? Haha!”
“He’s still going to feel those burns tomorrow!”
Team Shanghai returned to the hotel and took the elevator up to their rooms. Tang Bingyao and An Xin went to their room while the rest gathered in Lin Feng’s room. There they discussed what they were going to do the rest of the day. Chu Fang promised to lodge a complaint against Seo but warned them that the Guangzhou Esports Association was hosting the event and that odds were that nothing would come from it, and Zeng Rui briefly went into possible training sessions which all depended on how Tang Bingyao felt.
It was half an hour later that Tang Bingyao opened the hotel room door and walked in. Five pairs of eyes focused on her and everyone in the room asked, “How are you?”
Tang Bingyao smiled and said, “Mhm, I’m okay. Thanks”
An Xin frowned and interjected, “You’re not fine. The scrapes aren’t a big deal and it doesn’t look like you’ve got a concussion. But your pinky finger is not alright. That’s definitely going to affect your gameplay! You should really see a doctor for it!”
Tang Bingyao shook her head and argued, “I-it’s fine. Really! It won’t affect my gameplay too much! It’s just my right hand! I don’t need to use that finger–”
“But it will affect your gameplay,” Zeng Rui interjected. He took a deep breath, going over their options, and finally decided, “Tang Tang, you’re going to take it easy during practice tonight. I want you to rest your hand as much as possible. Hopefully it’s just a scare and you’ll feel better in the morning.”
Zhang Hao banged his fist on the table and cursed, “Fuck! It’s all Seo’s fault! That asshole wouldn’t even apologize! Tang Tang said she was fine, so I didn’t worry too much. But if I’d known this…” He raised his fist and continued, “I would’ve given him the same handicap!”
Su Xue nodded and added, “And it’s not just Seo! It’s their entire team! Their coach, interpreter, that kid that looks way too pale, all of them are scumbags!” She then turned to Lin Feng and continued, “You really got through to them at the end there, though. That was nice to see.”
Lin Feng nodded and glared at the wall. He said, “It’s nothing. I just told them the truth. If we draw them, I’ll make them regret everything they’ve done!”
“What Lin Feng says,” Zeng Rui agreed. He nodded and said, “We’ll teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.”
Zeng Rui decided that Team Shanghai was going to take the afternoon off to give Tang Bingyao some time to rest. He explained to the others that a little bit of rest could do wonders and that if it didn’t, she could still go and see a doctor then. Either way, practice was off. Everyone returned to their own rooms leaving Lin Feng and Chu Fang behind.
Chu Fang closed the door and then turned around to look at Lin Feng. He frowned and said, “The Guangzhou Esports Association is always like this. They’re the most competitive out of all three main branches from the Chinese Esports Association. But they’re also unscrupulous. Winning is the only thing they care about, and it doesn’t matter how many toes they have to step on to get there. That’s also why they bought those Korean players rather than nurturing their own talents. It’s a terrible habit.” He briefly paused before adding, “That coach we met earlier? His name is Yin Wei. He’s one of the worst when it comes to that. I heard he’s also the one who went to Korea to convince both Seo and Goalie to move to China just to help him win this tournament.”
“I see,” Lin Feng said. He shook his head and chuckled. “So he’s one of those people, huh?”
SIETSE LIKES OGLING BALLS WITH OTHER MEN
Sietse Thought: As some of you might know, the European Championships for football are starting in a few days. This is usually a big event here in the Netherlands. But four years ago we failed to qualify (well, five by now thanks to CoVid). And now, five years later, we qualified and we’ve got a strong team. Until a year ago, we were all actually looking forward to it. People were excited. People were constantly talking about it. Then our coach left and got replaced by someone who’s done one too many headers in his playing career. And it is honestly impressive how all excitement just disappeared. Like from one day to the next, we decided none of us care.
We used to organize big viewing parties. CoVid obviously makes that a bit more difficult. But we’re partying for other things, we’re finding the gray areas. But when it comes to the European Championships? Not really. It seems like no one particularly cares. The streets aren’t coloured orange, except for that one street that they keep showing on television. Literally one street with a couple excited people. But even then it’s painful to watch as they keep interviewing the same guy over and over again. He really doesn’t have that much to say. He just likes football.
Many people will say that it’s because of CoVid, but I’m fully convinced it has nothing to do with CoVid. We find ways to have fun, but we aren’t looking for ways to come together and watch these football games, something we always used to do. Getting together and watching Van Persie score that insane header against Spain was one of the moments you never forget. Or the Finals in 2010. Back when we still partied. But now? Now it’s awfully quiet. I live in one of the biggest cities in the Netherlands. I’ve walked around, gone to places on my bike, sat in the bus, been to so many places! I’ve only found one corner with orange flags.
I don’t know why I’m sharing this. Maybe a combination of reminiscing about the good old times and feeling like something is missing… Oh, right! And also to curse at this dumb fucking coach! Like Jose Mourinho once said, “Seven losses, zero goals, worst coach ever.” Please give us someone with some exciting football! Someone who makes us want to drink way too much beer and dance regardless whether we’re winning or losing! Let it be what it’s supposed to be, a fun event for fans to celebrate a good time!
Yeah, I just wanna party a bit! Maybe go to the beach and bring too much beer. It sounds like a sound plan to be honest.