It has been a little less than a week since the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicked off. And already the Chinese Internet is buzzing with World Cup fever.
From the stunning performance of the Saudi Arabian goalkeeper to the ‘real life’ Qatari mascot and everything in between, we take a look at how the tournament has been viewed from a Chinese perspective so far.
China’s contribution off the pitch
It has been 20 years since the China men’s national soccer team took part in their first and only World Cup competition to date. However, Chinese media were quick to point out that the country contributed in ways other than on the pitch.
Global Times proclaims that “China’s manufacturing shines at World Cup venues.” From steel doors to shipping containers used in the Fan Village Cabins Free Zone in the Qatari capital Doha, Chinese-made products are not hard to find.
In the meantime, China Daily notes that while China may not be on the pitch at the World Cup, the country “aims for football power in the long term”.
It notes that the China International Railway Group built the Lusail Stadium and that China gifted Qatar two pandas – Jing Jing and Sihai – which were later renamed Suhail and Soraya.
Li Jianming – deputy director of China’s General Administration of Sports – says the country plans to bid for a future World Cup, but “the timetable has yet to be determined”.
At the moment we can only dream in China.
China shared the world’s collective shock of two special results from Group C and Group E respectively – no prizes to guess which games we’re referring to.
Following Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 win over Argentina, the hashtag #沙特门将牛# (Saudi Arabia goalkeeper…amazing) has garnered around 330 million views on the Weibo social media platform.
Mohammed Al-Owais was hardly a well-known footballer before November 22. His strong performance was crucial in his side’s victory over the Argentines. And it seems that his efforts have not been lost on the Chinese Internet.
Hashtags have also been trending on Weibo, indicating that 2022 will be the last World Cup for soccer superstar Lionel Messi.
#梅西最后一次世界杯今晚启程# (Messi’s final World Cup starts tonight) has been viewed over 32 million times. We can only imagine how many Messi fans from across China were a little heartbroken after Tuesday’s result.
Of course, that’s not the only surprise we’ve seen so far.
Germany’s 2-1 defeat by Japan shocked China and the world.
Many Weibo users noted that Japanese fans watching at the stadium dutifully cleaned up the trash after the game ended. A Chinese netizen joked that if China had just beaten Germany 2-1, Chinese fans would “clean the whole stadium”.
A Weibo user jokes that if China had beaten Germany 2-1, the stadium would be completely clean. Image via Weibo
The ‘real’ mascot from Qatar
During the opening game of the World Cup between host nation Qatar and Ecuador, one particular Qatar fan drew a little more attention than he expected.
A young man from Qatar – known only by his Twitter handle @afjalthani1 – stands frustrated in the crowd. Many Chinese netizens took notice as he flicked back his ghutra, a type of headgear worn by men in many Arab countries.
Many people said he looked like the real-life version of the official World Cup mascot, La’eeb – a humanized cartoon ghutra whose name means ‘super talented player’ in Arabic.
The young Qatar fan who went viral on the Chinese internet. Image via Weibo
The young man later recorded a video in English addressing his Chinese fans. He said the following:
“Hello. This is my message to all my Chinese fans. I’m just here to thank you for all your beautiful comments and all your beautiful videos. I’ve seen them all. Thank you very much and welcome to Qatar. You can live and see this amazing event – the World Cup. Thank you.”
Warnings about drunk drivers and gamblers
The World Cup is a time for many fans to gather and be merry. But of course getting a little too happy can cause problems.
In Bayan Nur — a prefecture-level city in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region — traffic authorities take no chances with drunk drivers.
An article published via the Inner Mongolia Traffic Police official WeChat account said that “wild parties would not be tolerated during the World Cup”.
Police were seen putting up posters across the city warning partygoers of the consequences of drink driving.
Another World Cup warning came for would-be gamblers (note that gambling is illegal in mainland China).
A poster informing people how to avoid cheating during the World Cup. Image via Weibo
China Daily notes the “continued crackdown on gambling and cheating related to football matches”.
They cited the example of Meixi (梅西镇) township in Meizhou city, Guangdong province, where police warned people not to gather in large groups, gamble or drink, and drive.
We couldn’t help but notice the name of each parish China Daily decided to bring light into the darkness; Meixi (梅西) is actually Messi’s name in Chinese – coincidence?
[Cover image via Weibo/@英国足球那点事]