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China fines comedy firm $2m for military joke

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China on Wednesday slammed a comedy company with a 14.7 million Yuan ($2.13million) penalty, accusing it of “harming society’’ after a military joke made by one of its comedians drew public criticism.

The Beijing arm of China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism Bureau said it would fine Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media Co 13.35 million Yuan.

It said that it would also confiscate 1.35 million Yuan in “illegal gains’’ from the firm after discovering that a recent show by Li Haoshi, who performs under the name House, had breached rules.

The incident had strongly divided the Chinese public over what sort of jokes were inappropriate as performances such as stand-up comedy become increasingly popular and also highlighted the limits of appropriate content in China where authorities say it must promote core socialist values.

Li went viral on Chinese social media earlier this week after an audience member posted online a description of a joke he had made at a live stand-up set in Beijing on May 13, describing it as demeaning to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

In the joke, Li recounted seeing two stray dogs he had adopted chase a squirrel and said it had reminded him of the phrase “have a good work style, be able to fight and win battles’’, a slogan Chinese President Xi Jinping used in 2013 to praise the PLA’s work ethic.

“We will never allow any company or individual use the Chinese capital as a stage to wantonly slander the glorious image of the PLA,’’ the cultural bureau said, adding that Xiaoguo Culture would be barred from staging any future shows in Beijing.

In response to the fine, Xiaoguo Culture blamed the incident on major loopholes in management and said it had terminated Li’s contract.

Reuters could not immediately reach Li for comment and Weibo appears to have banned him from posting to his account there.

Founded in Shanghai in 2015, Xiaoguo Culture’s popularity has grown in sync with China’s embrace of stand-up comedy and is known for raising the profile of hundreds of local comedians.

The firm, one of the country’s best-known, and its artists have fallen foul of authorities before.

In July 2021, the company was fined 200,000 Yuan for publishing advertisements that featured a comedian endorsing a lingerie brand with comments said to objectify women.

(Reuters/NAN)

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Barcelona release statement on Messi’s decision to join Inter Miami

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Spanish football giants, Barcelona have reacted to Lionel Messi’s decision to join Inter Miami.The club, on Wednesday night, released a statement after Lionel Messi confirmed he would be joining Inter Miami.The LaLiga champions revealed that they presented a contract to Messi, but the player decided to move to Major League Soccer (MLS).The statement read: “On Monday, June 5, Jorge Messi, the player’s father and representative, informed Club President Joan Laporta of the player’s decision to join Inter Miami, despite having been presented with a proposal from Barça, in consideration of the desire of both FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi for him to once again wear blaugrana.“President Laporta understood and respected Messi’s decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years.“Both Joan Laporta and Jorge Messi also agreed to work together to promote a proper tribute from Barça fans to honor a footballer who has been, is, and always will be beloved by Barça.”

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Champions League: how Man City can defeat Inter Milan in final – Guardiola speaks

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Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, has talked about how his team can be victorious in the Champions League.He gave a tactical breakdown into how his team can defeat Inter Milan in the Champions League final on Saturday.The Serie A side stand in between City and winning the Treble this season.Although many observers feel Guardiola’s men are big favourites, the Spaniard has said it will not be an easy game.“Inter will be a team with a lot of difficulties. It’s not easy to attack the defensive system they use. We have to be with a lot of rhythm but be patient. We are not going to do it in three, four passes.“We have to use the right tempo that we have to play in these type of games. As much as the game goes through, you become more anxious and that will be a problem.“They are used to controlling all the games in Italy, they have good patterns and of course we have to defend really, really well.“It’s a final against a top team, we have to do it. We are confident and so optimistic, but at the same time I cannot deny the qualities of the opponents, especially in the final of the Champions League,” Guardiola said.

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Transfer: they still have aame problem – Pique hits Barcelona Amid Messi’s return

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Gerard Pique, the former Barcelona defender, has slammed his former club.He criticized his former club under the leadership of President Joan Laporta for his stance on Lionel Messi’s potential return to Camp Nou.Messi recently played his last game for Paris Saint-Germain against Clermont Foot last Sunday.The Argentine will leave PSG as a free agent after June 30 and has been linked with a return to Barcelona.Messi’s father, Jorge Messi, recently had a meeting with Laporta.Speaking on the developments, Pique said (via Barca Universal) that Barcelona still have the same financial issues.The Spaniard said, “We have left and they still have the same problem. In theory, we were the ones responsible for the financial issues with our salaries.“Now we are not there and they cannot register either. Who else has to go?”Pique retired in the middle of the 2022-2023 season and the likes of Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba will also leave at the end of the season.

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