Some day, when historians write the story of the rise of Chinese Football -- the team's long path from national laughingstock to World Cup champion -- they'll point to this year's Asian Cup as the turning point. More specifically, they'll cite tonight's game (7:30 pm China time, 9:30 Queensland), during which a scrappy and young squad caught magic and upset the tourney hosts in a sold-out and raucous Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Some clever Taobao vendors have decided to capitalize on Luis Suarez's penchant for human flesh by creating what appears to be a bottle opener fashioned from a likeness of the Uruguayan striker's jaw. And look -- it can be had for only 17 RMB!
We're not sure whether Liu Yuxi is a certified reporter, but she's been assigned to CCTV studio commentary for this year's World Cup, and judging by her Sina Weibo account, she appears to be a huge homer for front-runners and generally popular teams such as Portugal, Brazil, and Argentina (Messi, specifically). But Ms. Liu saves her true passion for Italy, which we know because -- donning the Azzurri blue -- she broke down and sobbed on live television tonight following Italy's 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
China won’t be playing in Brazil – they have appeared at a World Cup just once and failed to score a goal – but millions will stay up late to watch the games, probably starting this Friday at 4 am when Croatia kicks off against the host nation in São Paulo. Here are 10 things in this year's World Cup with a Chinese connection.
The champs of Asia lost to the champs of South America on Saturday in the 3/4 game at the FIFA Club World Cup. It was fantastic from the get-go. Both Atletico Mineiro and Guangzhou Evergrande scored early (Atletico's Diego Tardelli, 2'; Guangzhou's Muriqui, 9') before Guangzhou took the lead on a 15th minute penalty. But then, in first-half extra time, Atletico's Ronaldinho -- the Ronaldinho, known as "Small Lo" in China (not to be confused with "Big Lo," i.e. [now-fat] Ronaldo, or "C Lo," who is Cristiano Ronaldo) -- did this:
European champs Bayern Munich made easy work of Guangzhou Evergrande yesterday in the semifinals of the FIFA Club World Cup, played in Morocco. Three goals within a seven-minute window (Franck Ribéry 40′, Mario Mandzukic 44′, Mario Götze 47) provided the final 3-0 margin.
China are champions! Okay, no, it's Guangzhou Evergrande, but judging by some headlines, you'd think this country's united in its support of the new AFC Champions League winners. As if a Real Madrid fan would ever care about Barca in the UEFA Champions League. As if this country's soccer fans weren't, in actuality, cynical and parochial, likely more so than Philadelphia Eagles supporters.
Liaoning played Xinjiang in the semifinals of a U-20 tournament at the National Games of China on Sunday, and the two sides managed to score one goal each in a mostly (we're guessing) sloppy, mistake-ridden, difficult-to-watch contest. There was one redeeming moment for us to treasure though. Let's go to the tape.
Liaoning Whowin played host to Shangai Shenhua on August 1 (yes, eight days ago; sorry, this is late), which wouldn't be worth mentioning if not for a terrible, terrible tackle that might be called straight-up assault if it didn't happen on a soccer pitch. (And if people in real life, hilariously, also could not use their hands.) You can watch it above, or look at the screenshots below to get an idea of how bad it was.
You could be forgiven for thinking that, entering its third and final match in the East Asian Cup on Sunday in Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul, China had already exceeded expectations. Its toughest tests came in the first two games of this four-team tournament, and it passed -- "won," one might say, in the way that soccer teams can win draws. It mustered a furious late rally to erase a 3-1 deficit against Japan last Sunday, then summoned an intense defensive effort to keep a fesity South Korean squad out of the net on Wednesday -- this from a team that gave its weary fans no reason to expect these results, having convincingly lost its three previous contests.
Belgian international Jan Vertonghen, a key piece in Tottenham's defense, suffered an ankle injury in the second half of a friendly at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday. He slipped on the watery turf and now may miss the start of the English Premier League campaign on August 18, depending on MRI results.
The Chinese soccer team pulled off another minor miracle on Wednesday night in its second match in the East Asian Cup, withstanding South Korea's relentless attacks and holding them to a scoreless draw in Hwaseong Stadium near Seoul. It was the second positive result this week -- on Sunday, China roared back from two goals down to tie Japan 3-3 in the final minutes, its first non-loss in four matches. Now, two non-losses in the last two. If these guys keep this up, movies will be made about them.
China's soccer team scored two goals in the final 10 minutes to snatch an improbable 3-3 draw against Japan in the opening game of the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup on Sunday in Seoul.
China had lost three consecutive games, including an embarrassing 5-1 home defeat to a mostly junior Thailand team last month. Japan are Asian champions. This result was not expected.
Lionel Messi endorses WeChat, i.e. Weixin, i.e. the next Sina Weibo, as some people have called it on account of its functionality and interstellar growth. You can send texts for free (pending Internet connection), start group chats, and deliver photos and voice messages. And as Messi demonstrates in the above 30-second ad, you can communicate via video, too -- Instagram, Sina Weibo, and Vine all in one.
On Wednesday, AFP reported that Manchester United, the storied 135-year-old football club, finally joined Twitter and Sina Weibo. It has 446,714 followers on Twitter as of this moment and a modest-by-comparison 171,510 followers on Weibo, but realize this: Arsenal, which has had a Sina Weibo account for at least a year and has posted 7,238 messages compared to Man U's 46, has only 88,815 followers. Even in the realm of Chinese social media, the Red Devils reign supreme.
At least five people were injured in a stampede this afternoon at Shanghai's Tongji University as hundreds of spectators, many of them students, jostled for a closer glimpse of David Beckham.
An ambassador for Chinese football, Beckham was scheduled to take the field alongside the Tongji team and a local youth team, but the event was cancelled.
The international icon posted the following message to his Sina Weibo account at 4:39 pm:
David Beckham arrived in Beijing yesterday, kicking off his second tour of China as soccer ambassador. (His first trip, in March, saw him hilariously whiff on a free kick.) The positive publicity couldn't have come soon enough, considering the Chinese national team's humiliating 5-1 thrashing at the hands and feet of Thailand's youth team on Saturday. What was one of the first things Becks did?
Join Sina Weibo, of course. Check out his first post:
It's difficult -- it really is -- to say Chinese soccer has reached a "new" low, considering its history of match-fixing and utter, abysmal, unmitigated failure on the international stage (its only World Cup appearance coming in the year when two other Asian countries had automatic bids into the tourney). But after losing 5-1 to a mostly junior Thailand team on home turf on Saturday, more than a few fans are saying this is the bottom. "Disband the national team" has become something of a commonplace chant, as meaningless as "black whistle" when refs screw up, but the rallying cry attained something of a feverish tone of urgency on Saturday. Can it get worse? If so, it's only because we're talking about Chinese football here.