Chinese soccer fans seeking ways to miss work to watch the upcoming World Cup games are now fuelling a black-market trade for blank doctor’s notes.
With all the games in Brazil scheduled between the early afternoon to evening, the so-called “World Cup with the largest-ever time difference” will be broadcast in China between midnight and the morning.
To help fans work around the “disastrous” schedule, more than a dozen online stores on popular shopping site Taobao.com are selling certificates of illness or doctor’s notes, according to the Beijing-based Legal Evening News.
Prices range from 10 yuan (HK$12.60) to as much as 300 yuan.
The world’s biggest soccer event kicks off on June 13 with a match between the host country and Croatia.
One seller of blank notes claimed they were genuine papers from Beijing’s Peking Union Medical College Hospital.
“Lots of people have shopped from me,” the seller, surnamed Zhang, said when contacted by South China Morning Post today.
Sample photos from his store on Taobao showed a stack of notes with seemingly genuine labels and stamps from the prestigious hospital.
“Just fill it out with symptoms such as fever or colds. It will do the trick,” Zhang said.
That store alone sold more than 442 doctor’s notes in the past week, according to Taobao’s transaction-tracking function.
Chinese law bans the sale of blank or fake doctor’s notes. Offenders can be prosecuted on illegal business operation charges, and may face up to five years in jail and fines.
But even the discount sellers are planning to hawk the goods right until the big event – albeit at a higher price.
“By the time the World Cup starts, the notes may not be at this price,” said one seller of 10-yuan doctor’s slips. Employees are typically paid for sick days vouched for by doctors, but not for missing work without a valid excuse.
Peking Union Medical College Hospital and other medical institutions slammed the trade as a travesty, saying real doctors’ notes cannot possibly be obtained outside hospitals.
As a security measure, hospitals keep stubs of doctor’s notes, attached to the end of the page and can be torn off, so these can be cross-checked with the patients’ copies.