Between inflated transfer fees, relentless top-down engineering and the acutely politicised nature of the sport in the country, China and the Chinese Super League offer little for Football traditionalists. Yet an inquisitive Football enthusiast can still chance upon an oasis of culture even in this expansive wilderness.
To my surprise, fans were freely walking back out of the stadium. The vast security team that had so diligently monitored the actions of the crowd inside the ground now seemed entirely ambivalent to their temporary exit. With fifteen minutes to kill, I followed many fans out to find a soft drink. Having completed my purchase from a vendor making his living in the shadow of the stadium named in honour of the city’s proletariat, I turned to face the Beijing Workers’ Stadium and bumped into three young men in identical green t-shirts featuring bold designs. Given the impenetrable language barrier, I made a friendly motion to demonstrate my wish to take a photograph. Their passive demeanour evaporated.
The ethnic Han account for approximately 92% of the population of the People’s Republic of China. A couple hundred other ethnic groups are formally recognised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), though possibly thousands more exist unofficially within the world’s most populous country. In his book “The Emperor Far Away”, author David Eimer literally and figuratively explores four geographic regions of China where the Han Chinese are outnumbered by their reluctant compatriots, and his work directly inspired this article.
The picture he paints is bleak. While the Han Continue reading
An immediate observation made at Chinese Football games is the consistent employment of a Capo figure in blocks of fans and Ultras within the stadium. At all Chinese Super League matches I’ve attended in the People’s Republic, a Capo has been present at every single one.
If you are unfamiliar Continue reading
An immediate observation of the fan culture at Chinese Football games is the lack of anything new. Fans wave colourful flags, bounce, drum, clap, raise scarves and shine their smartphone torches at at the end of a match; traditions observable at Football stadia around the world. Chinese Football fans are looking to foreign leagues for inspiration and borrowing customs that they think work well, instead of taking the time to develop fan traditions of their own. It may sound harsh, but it is certainly true.
When you think about it, this behavioural pattern makes sense. In Continue reading
One common characteristic of Football matches in China is the extensive police presence. At the Worker’s Stadium in Beijing, each seating block is allocated numerous uniformed officers with more scattered between the fans and the pitch. The officers gather in rank once again after the match outside the stadium in plain view of any remaining spectators still loitering around, a show of force and a clear statement to any would-be troublemakers. Take a brief view at the photo below and you will clearly see many serving officers in khaki uniforms sat in the front row of the stand.
This behaviour shouldn’t seem strange to you. China is very wary of Continue reading
We left the first game in Guangzhou before the final whistle, missing the second goal. This is the price to pay for two games in one evening, I suppose. From the Tianhe Stadium, we dashed across town to get to the magnificent Yuexiu Mountain Stadium, home of Guangzhou R&F.
And what a stadium. Our ventures the day before had culminated in reaching the stadium whilst empty. Walking through the hilly Yuexiu park, this giant sky-blue Continue reading
Guangzhou Evergrande at home to Chongqing Lifan was next on our CSL itinerary. Evergrande, the current dominant force in Chinese Football, were massive favourites at the Tianhe Stadium in the modern city centre (and won 2-0). Tickets purchased and in we went to explore and take photographs prior to the ground filling. We were next to the Ultra block, so we took the liberty of going beneath it to photograph the banners and sector flags with little opposition to do so. One banner caught our eye quickly; “WE Continue reading