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By Zuqiu Mundial 30 Apr 2018

To mark the launch of a new China Soccer Observatory (CSO) social media channel – Zuqiu Mundial (in English, Football World Cup) – the CSO has released the first in a series of short films about the national teams that Chinese football fans will be supporting during this summer’s World Cup. This can be accessed via 

Before the tournament begins, filmed content will be posted on Zuqui Mundial that will reveal the hopes and expectations amongst some of China’s most passionate football fans. In particular, fans will be revealing which are their favourite teams, why they are supporting them, and where and how they will be watching matches.

As the tournament progresses, additional filmed content will be posted in which the fans share their thoughts and feelings about their favourite teams, and about the way the tournament is unfolding. The content will also show how Chinese fans watch and talk about world football’s biggest international event, as well as what they buy.

And once the World Cup is over, Zuqiu Mundial will produce content in which the fans reflect upon the triumphs and heartaches they have experienced during the competition. In addition, they will be providing assessments of how their favourite national teams have performed.

The film content is being generated, and will be analysed, by a team of three researchers: Professor Simon Chadwick, Dr Jon Sullivan (from the University of Nottingham’s China Soccer Observatory) and Dr Yupei Zhao (of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou), all of whom have long-standing interests in both Chinese football and football fandom. 

Chadwick states: “Chinese football has become the focus of attention in recent years, though China’s national team has generally underperformed. Hence, the country’s football fans often support other national teams during the World Cup. Our Zuqiu Mundial research shows fans support teams, including Germany, Argentina, Spain and Brazil. As the business of football in China develops, understanding the ‘why and how’ of support is an important element of the sport’s future in the country.”

Sullivan observes: “Chinese football fans are a far more sophisticated group of people than people imagine. Some have lifelong associations with particular teams, a result of various factors such as parental influence. Other fans seem rather more to be motivated by a desire to be associated with world football’s most successful countries. Our research involves getting inside Chinese fandom so that we can better understand how people think and behave.”

Zhao believes: “There is a growing number of football fans in China, many of whom are eagerly awaiting this summer’s World Cup. Of course, Chinese people wanted their own national team to have qualified, but will instead be supporting other teams once the tournament begins. Many fans have personal favourites; what we are trying to identify is who these favourites are. Furthermore, we want to know why this is the case, but also to understand how this influences, for example, the merchandise fans purchase.”

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