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Top soccer clubs Arsenal, Bayern Munich deliver Spring Festival wishes to Chinese fans

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    15:38, January 31, 2019

(Screenshot of the Arsenal Spring Festival video)

Top soccer clubs Arsenal and Bayern Munich have both delivered their Spring Festival wishes to Chinese fans, as the nation’s growing demand for entertainment since reform and opening-up continues to expand to other industries, including sports.

On Monday, Arsenal and Bayern Munich each posted a Spring Festival-themed videos on their official Sina Weibo accounts, in which their players – from Laurent Koscielny to Manuel Neuer – expressed their New Year wishes in Chinese with traditional Chinese outfits and other festive decorations, such as Spring Festival couplets.

“It’s a promotion strategy for overseas soccer clubs to attract more Chinese fans as China’s vast population means a lucrative market with great potential,” a Beijing-based sports industry observer surnamed Lu commented.

In earlier years, clubs like Serie A giants Juventus and Real Madrid also expressed their New Year wishes to Chinese fans during the Spring Festival.

Not only are these international clubs active on Chinese social media accounts like Sina Weibo and Douyin, many also set their eyes on more offline interactions, from hosting exhibition matches to opening themed restaurants and cafes.

“Reform and opening-up brought high-level sporting events to China, which quickly gained a huge fan base after a long-time void,” Lu said.

(Screenshot of FC Bayern Munich Spring Festival video)

Since Chinese audiences were first exposed to international sports events in 1978 with the FIFA World Cup hosted in Argentina, reform and opening-up has not only brought more economic progress, but also more entertaining sports events to the nation.

In the 1980s, the Italian Serie A was introduced to the Chinese mainland. Over the decades, all five major leagues in Europe – Serie A, Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and Ligue 1 – have not only found their way to China, but also an expanding fan base.

Bundesliga, for example, has grown to become the most influential league in China since the official broadcast by China Central Television in 1990s, data from digital marketing company Mailman Group showed. On Sina Weibo alone, Bundesliga’s account has over 2.75 million followers.

There is no exact number of Chinese fans of international soccer clubs, but according to the market research company Nielsen, China is home to at least 187 million soccer fans.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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