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Why PSG & Zlatan’s time in China failed & I’ll never go to another summer tour match (until I go again)

I have been blessed (or cursed?) in living in the two countries where summer tours are most prevelant these days, the United States and China. Each summer like clockwork, big clubs from all of Europe’s big four leagues (and beyond) decide to go on these money grabbing trips and the fans in these countries just eat the shit up.

The opening match of the French season hasn’t actually been played in France since 2008 and it was the same this year, when Paris Saint Germain faced off against Guingamp in Beijing. I must admit, I’m a long standing PSG fan going back to the days of Rai, Nicolas Anelka, and Ronaldinho. When I heard they were coming to Beijing, and Worker’s Stadium no less (not the dreaded Bird’s Nest), I figured it wouldn’t be the Parc des Princes, but I had to relive the memories, “dream big” (PSG’s motto) and all.

Every summer clubs come to Beijing and every time I attend one of these matches, I say it will be my last, but I keep going back. My excuse this time was that it was PSG and it wasn’t at the Bird’s Nest, but in the future there shouldn’t be any exceptions allowed. None of the PSG players I wanted to see (Cabaye, Matuidi, Thiago Silva) bothered to make the trip and the only ones anyone knew were the mercenary Zlatan Ibrahimovic (of course) and to a lesser extent Cavani and Javier Pastore (though only the women were interested).

I told myself that since this was a “cup” match, the players would at least play like they had a vague interest in winning the match. Boy was I wrong, the match looked like it was in slow motion and both teams had absolutely nothing invested in who won the match. PSG cruised to a 2-0 victory, though if Guingamp had bothered, they could have easily made it 2-2, thank God they didn’t as they saved the fans from having to watch even more of the drivel.

Typically these tours are about promoting good relations with the fans, but Paris players did everything they could to avoid the masses. In part, that has to do with this being China, where everything has to be harmonious, instead of the US, which allows for more up-close-and-personal chances between players and fans. However, PSG ruined the few chances they got, like the open practice where 500 Beijingers braved the inhumane heat to watch their kickabout, only to be ignored by every player save one (the aforementioned Pastore). If Paris was hoping to get off on the right foot with local fans, they failed miserably.

I should mention here that I gave up watching the China Derby live for this, which turned out to be a historic win for Beijing Guoan (maybe I should avoid watching more?). Also, I purchased two RMB180 tickets in advance of the match, while touts outside the stadium were selling attempting to sell RMB1580 tickets for RMB100. The absolute lack of interest in the match was obvious by a half full Gongti, with some fans even wearing the green of Guoan, as if they accidentally showed up at the wrong stadium. Almost all the Paris tops scene were purchased for RMB40 or less outside the stadium before the match.

No matter how much you want to watch your favorite European team, these summer matches in China aren’t the time to see them, you come home feeling dirty and swearing them off, until the next attractive one comes along. I’m putting my foot down and not giving in, this will be my last, I’d much rather watch a CSL match (or pretty much anything, including paint drying) than these incredibly dull summer matches. I’ve learned my lesson, really, I’m not going to be fooled by the glitz and glamour again. So even when Brazil comes to face Argentina at China’s National Stadium (ie the hated Bird’s Nest), I will crow about Brazil having played there twice as many times as the Chinese national team and will save my money. Then again….

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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