There was a lot of excitement in Beijing and Shanghai this week about the arrival of Bayern Munich and Manchester United, respectively. Both matches were “away” games for the Chinese Super League sides that hosted them, with fans of the European clubs they were playing coming out in large numbers from all over China to watch their heroes.
Not everyone was happy about these matches. They are taking places in a crucial (and crowded) part of the season schedule, with league matches on the weekend and weekday cup matches. Both Beijing Guoan and Shanghai Shenhua played their reserve side (for that matter, so did Manchester United), making these games even less interesting for the fans.
Some of them decided to speak out. Despite the somewhat unhappy goings on two weeks ago when Beijing fans travelled to Shanghai, Beijing’s E90 (an “ultras” group within the Yulinjun) and Shanghai’s Bluesland (a similar group within the Blue Devils) came together to make a statement in their respective cities “Love Football, Hate Business”, taking a strong stand against these meaningless friendlies.
Their attitude is in line with ultras across the world who are rejecting business interests that have taken over the sport. These summer tours are no longer the special, rare event that they were in the 90s and a lot of fans are simply getting sick of them. We at agree and salute this campaign, as well as hoping that Changchun and Shanghai Shenxin fans join in. These pointless matches do nothing to help Chinese football.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015