High demand for forged sick notes as Chinese football fans stay up into the small hours
Lucrative trade reported to have sprung up, but some employers attempting to accommodate World Cup fever
A time difference of up to 12 hours between China and Brazil has given mainland Chinese wheeler-dealers a lucrative opportunity selling fake sick notes to football fans staying up all night to watch World Cup games.
A search for “Beijing” and “sick notes service” returned 49,500 results on the search engine Baidu on Thursday, with vendors providing photocopies of hospital certificates with official stamps and doctor’s signatures in their “product catalogue”.
Such documents have long been available in mainland China, where corruption is frequent and fake goods of all kinds are for sale.
But the country’s biggest online consumer-to-consumer platform, Taobao, banned searches for “World Cup” and “sick notes” after a surge in offers of certificates in recent days, the Beijing Youth Daily has reported.
Nonetheless vendors have kept business going via the Twitter-like Sina Weibo and other social networking websites.
“The World Cup is coming and the huge time difference may affect Chinese football fans watching all the games. I hereby launch the sick notes providing service to meet the demand,” a user with the online handle “Guitarist playing a Ukulele” wrote on May 30.
The soon-to-be-unwell can pick from a range of afflictions, from fevers and fractures to abortion and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) – the infectious disease that caused hundreds of fatalities in China in 2003.
“I run the business honestly and will keep your order an absolute secret,” said the user.
Sick notes are mostly sold at 20 yuan (HK$25) apiece on one social networking website popular among students and graduates, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
One seller said she sold around 30 notes every day. Another vendor told the paper: “Many people buy this. It’s very reliable.”
Lawyers quoted in various mainland media reports have warned that submitting fake sick notes is illegal and that employers can sack offenders for fraud.
A few mainland companies have adjusted their working hours during the World Cup, winning plaudits for understanding viewers’ desires.
One Volkswagen dealership in Yangzhou is delaying opening until 2:00 pm every day during the tournament, and promised to give each employee a 100 yuan bonus for every goal scored by Germany, according to a purported internal document a Weibo user uploaded online.
“I have just one question: are you still recruiting?” one user commented.