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SBD Global/July 24, 2012/International Football

Famous European Sides Are Making Their Way Across China This Week

A number of European football clubs are "making their way" across China, with "big-name stars and friendly matches just about every day," according to Tang Zhe of the CHINA DAILY. Bayern Munich kicks things off on Tuesday with a game against Beijing Guo'an at Beijing Workers Stadium. EPL sides Manchester City, Arsenal and ManU will follow. The climax will come Friday when EPL champions Manchester City face Arsenal at the Bird's Nest "hours before the opening" of the London Games. Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany said, "It won't be as friendly a game as you may think. Two Premier League teams play each other, whatever way you look at it, the game will remind us that we have to play each other in the league." There will also be "competition off the pitch" with both clubs looking to solidify their fan bases in China (CHINA DAILY, 7/23).

TRYING TO CRACK CHINA: In London, Mark Ogden wrote the biggest names in the EPL “have been trying to ‘crack’ China for years, with [Manchester] United, in particular, working overtime to position themselves as the number one club" in a nation of more than 1 billion people. ManU has played in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou, plus the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau in recent years, but “there is a sense within the club that they are still attempting to scratch the surface in China.” Manchester City had “attempted to persuade United to agree to a derby clash in Beijing, rather than the eventual date against Arsenal, but the idea was knocked back by United, who believe their brand in China is strong enough to prosper on its own, without the help of a box office meeting with their neighbours.” While ManU officials “claim to have millions of supporters in China, tapping into their popularity there has not proven to be as straightforward and financially-rewarding as in the likes of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.” ManU, Man City and Arsenal are “all in China this week to chase the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, despite the difficulties in locating it” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/23).
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