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China’s World Cup Fever Kicks-Off Black Market in Fake Sick Notes

BEIJING -- When the World Cup kicks off on Friday in Brazil, many in China will likely fall “ill.”

To help soccer fans skip work so they can watch matches shown midnight to 6 a.m. local time, sick leave certificates are being hawked online.

“We just sold 10 doctor's notes today, and about 100 since we began last month,” a seller identifying himself as Mr. Zhang told NBC News.

His online shop on Taobao, China’s biggest e-commerce site, is considered a “crown seller,” which means it has a good reputation.

Zhang sold NBC News a sick note for “chronic appendicitis,” valid for three days from the World Cup opening on June 13 and complete with the seal of Peking University People’s Hospital.

“To be delivered door to door, online payment after delivery,” he said of the certificate, which cost $10.

Soccer is the most popular sport in the country, ahead of ping-pong or basketball, and the Chinese television audience is considered a key market for what is expected to be a record global audience for the two-week games.

“Watching a recording will be boring. The games have to be watched live to be truly enjoyed,” a soccer fan quoted by The New Culture Daily said. “But if we report for work sleepy and tired, our boss will curse us.”

Prices range from $2 to $50, depending on the duration of sick leave and terms of the medical certificates. Some certificates are blank and can be filled in by the buyer.

Acute lumbar sprain, nervous headache and acute appendicitis are the top ailments requested on the fake doctors’ notes, according to The New Culture Daily.

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- Eric Baculinao