A few years ago, an internet meme spread across China regarding a “Brother Sharp“. It started when a picture of a homeless man with a unique sense of style was photographed smoking a cigarette with a brooding look on his face. Quickly more images popped up on the net and declared him to be “cool”, “stylish”, and “handsome”. The internet meme had a negative, mocking feeling to it, though it did good in the end as Brother Sharp was reunited with his family.
Recently, a similar picture popped up online of another run down looking man with a similar moustache and wild hair wearing a Beijing Guoan scarf. At first, it was said that the photo was photoshopped while others were mocking the person in the photo and said they hoped they wouldn’t have to stand next to him at Worker’s Stadium.
It turns out the photographs were real, the scarf he was wearing was the scarf provided to all Beijing season ticket holders this year. He turned up at Worker’s Stadium for the Shanghai match as well as the ACL match Tuesday night and his story has started being spread.
It turns out he has been a football fan from his youth and in part his absolute love for the sport led to arguments with his family, ultimately seeing him leave his Xicheng district home in 1999. He’s not a begger, as some suggested, for work he collects bottles around Xidan.
Beyond spending money on food and cigarettes, Guoan’s own “Brother Sharp” spends what little he earns on Beijing Guoan. He’s been a season ticket holder for the past three years and this year the price raise to RMB500 was hard for him to take, amounting to two months of earnings from bottle collecting. However, as he says, “it’s worth it, I can spend less on food for awhile, but I can’t miss watching Guoan.”
This is what Guoan means to a lot in Beijing. It is a part of the city, something fathers pass down to their sons and daughters. It’s about a passion for football more than anything. These type of true fans exist and are often times overlooked because of the swearing masses. The story of Guoan’s “Brother Sharp” is one of many on the terraces and just goes to show that fans and watchers need to keep an open mind and not just judge based on appearances.
To Brother Sharp (who does have his own weibo account), I’d be proud to stand with you at Gongti.
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