Editor’s note: While there have been a ton of posts on this site, there are few that are as important as this one, written by Kenneth last year. We love Chinese football for a lot of reasons, but if you’ve never been to a match, these ten should motivate you to go. While tickets will be hard to come by in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (at least for Guoan, Shenhua, and Evergrande), but everywhere else tickets are very cheap and easy to come by (just look at the prices!). I recently read an article where expats complained about how hard it is to meet real, true Chinese friends. While that may be, if you decide to join a Chinese Super League club’s fan group, you’ll stand out at first, but soon you’ll just be one of the guys and have a lot of unique friendships. I’ve often said Chinese football mirrors Chinese society, by being a real supporter of a Chinese club, you’ll have access to a unique cross section of Chinese society and will gain a deeper understanding of the country. Seriously, if you are any kind of football/soccer fan, what are you waiting for?
Not interested in attending a Chinese Super League (Chinese Super League) match? Take a few minutes and read the following 10-points that argue why becoming a Chinese Super League fan isn’t actually all that bad. Who knows, you might even have a change of heart.
1. Live Football – Nothing beats a live match. Sure sitting in the bar with your buddies watching European clubs battle it out on the pitch is great, but it’s not comparable to watching a match in person. Hearing the roar of the crowd after the home-side goes up in stoppage time, or the boos and curses rain down as the ref screws your side over (again and again), this cannot be duplicated.
2. It’s Your Local Team – Tired of seeing AC Milan and Barcelona jerseys everywhere you go? Enough of this bandwagon fandom. If you’re going to support a team in a city/country that you’ve never been to why not try to also support the team of the city you currently live in? I think you might find it’s a much more gratifying experience when the team your supporting has your city across the crest.
3. Cheap Entertainment – Housing prices and the cost of fuel may be soaring in the harmonious society, but the increase in the cost of living has had little effect on the Chinese Super League. As has been mentioned in previous posts the cost of a Jiangsu Sainty season ticket is only 50rmb ($7.70), and this includes a knock-off jersey. Over on the official Barcelona team store website a bottle koozie will set you back $9.99, not including shipping and handling. Although I must agree that koozies are one of mankind’s greatest inventions, the fact that it costs more than tickets to 15-football matches and a shanzhai (knock-off) jersey is rather ludicrous.
4. Excuse to Travel – Ever wanted to visit the scenic West Lake in Hangzhou or take a tour of the breweries in Qingdao? Well now you have an excuse to visit these cultural relics. Your local supporter group will most likely make inexpensive travel arrangements for away fixtures with relatively close teams. If you choose to travel by yourself you can take advantage of China’s extensive public transportation network.
5. Learn Chinese – Ever wanted to know the Chinese for, “#@%$ the Ref” or “Henan &$!@%”? Come find a seat at any Chinese Super League match and take in the colorful language they won’t teach you in school. Who knows, you might even be able to teach the Chinese fans a thing or two as well.
6. Two Teams Are Better Than One – What’s that? You’re hometown team just got relegated? Ouch, sorry to hear that. Well I’ve got good news, there’s a traditional Chinese treatment that will fix you right up. It involves drinking a large quantity of Chinese alcohol (beer or baijiu will do fine) and heading over to the football stadium to watch your local Chinese Super League side kick the snot out of the opposition. Before you know it you’ll be right as rain.
7. Only Show in Town – Unlike the USA, China does not have a wide variety of professional sports leagues to entertain the masses. Aside from the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) there really isn’t too much in terms of live sporting events. As much as people like to bash the quality of the Chinese Super League, the CBA isn’t any better, and in actuality probably much worse.
8. Quality of Play Really Isn’t That Horrible – Speaking of bad quality, is the Chinese Super League really all that bad? If you compare it to the Premier League or La Liga of course the Chinese Super League is going to look like garbage. Compared to some leagues of a lesser standing like Major League Soccer in America the Chinese Super League can hold its own. You might even be surprised by some of the individual skill showcased by some of the league’s top players.
9. Become a Mini Celebrity – What to turn some heads? Show up at a Chinese Super League match sporting the teams jersey and scarf and you’re bound to get stares from the Chinese fans. Most people can’t understand why Chinese people would go to a Chinese Super League match let alone a foreigner.
10. Get in While the Gettin’s Good -You think 50rmb season tickets are going to last forever? In 10-years when new investors come into the league that make the current Guangzhou Evergrande front office look like cheap skates and bring in international superstars, expect the cost of tickets to rise dramatically. When this happens going to the Chinese Super League matches will be the trendy thing to do, like hitting up Lakers games in Los Angeles or Cubs games in Chicago. You’ll always be able to say you followed the Chinese Super League before it got big.
If these reason aren’t enough to get you to attend a Chinese Super League match then I don’t know what is. While the Chinese Super League might not be for everybody, if you’re a true fan of the sport you’ve got to at least give the league a chance.
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