The 5:1 thrashing that incumbent World Cup champion Spain suffered at the hands of the Netherlands last week sent shockwaves throughout the soccer world. It was the biggest loss ever by a reigning champion, and has made fans worldwide wonder how the greatest national team of the last decade could be so resoundingly demolished in the group stage.
China’s football followers, however, believe possessive the conclusive explanation: a CCTV sports anchor known as the “team killer.” Heralded as “the most beautiful anchor in history,” Liu Yuxi has earned a reputation amongst the country’s basketball fans for dooming the team whose jersey she wears during the broadcast. “Whichever NBA team’s jersey she wears,” they say, “that team will be eliminated in the play-offs.”
This logic made the leap over from NBA basketball to World Cup football when Liu made the fateful decision to model the Spanish kit on TV during the game. Since Sichuan’s Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre was ordered by the government to abandon plans to use baby pandas to predict World Cup match outcomes, “team killer” Liu might be China’s closest equivalent to the late, great Paul the Octopus.
By Ryan Kilpatrick