The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people “ill” in China.
Football fans are preparing for the kick off the biggest sporting event of the year by purchasing fake sick notes online.
Most World Cup matches will take place in Brazil when it is past midnight in China, or in the early hours between 3 and 6 a.m. The schedule has Chinese media dramatically referring to this year’s competition as “the World Cup with the greatest time difference in history.”
To catch those pre-dawn games, fans are resorting to claiming sick leave by purchasing fake doctor’s notes through e-commerce sites such as Taobao.
Standard pads of sick notes have always been available on the site, for as little as RMB 1 ($0.16) per pack. But to get a note that looks authentic, with a hospital’s stamp and a convincing diagnostic scrawl from a doctor, it will cost up to RMB 300 ($50) per note, local media reports.
One football fan said he was considering purchasing sick leave slips online for the thrill of watching games as they happened.
“Recordings of matches are meaningless, only live broadcasts are fun. If I stay up all night to watch the games, I will be so sleepy the next day and my boss will scold me,” the man surnamed Liu told Sina News.
Direct searches for fake sick notes won’t work on e-commerce sites such as Taobao. To get around the illegality of selling fraudulent notes, vendors title their items as “proof of diagnosis note.”
Sina also reported that one online vendor was claiming to offer sick notes with consultation records registered at a Beijing hospital, at double the price of notes without registered records.
To prevent employees taking fake sick leave, one IT company in Guangdong province has made a rare offer of three days paid leave to employees who wish to watch World Cup matches, according to local media.
Fake sick notes made headlines in China in 2012 when a postal worker in Hong Kong used 130 doctor’s notes bought from Taobao to scam more than HK$217,000 (about $28,000) in sick leave allowance as well as 635 days of leave in the span of four years.
Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption found pads of blank doctor’s notes as well as bogus doctor’s stamps at the 40-year-old offender’s home.