Yossi Benayoun of Arsenal and Edin Dzeko of Manchester City, having at it in London’s Emirates Stadium on November 29th, 2011.
The mega-clubs of European football are once again getting on their Asian summer tour horse! Reuters reports that Arsenal and current league leaders Manchester City will play a match at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing on Friday July 27th, the same day the London Olympics kick off.
The match will be billed as the ‘China Cup’, and will kick off at 8pm China Standard Time. That’s six and a half hours before the Olympics opening ceremony begins, meaning it’ll be a great day that warrants clearing out all your appointments to get absolutely toast-blasted epic drunk.
Arsenal returns to China for the second year in a row, after pleasing the feelings of the Chinese nation last year with their attempts at speaking Mandarin.
Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis expressed his excitement at once again bringing his
brand club to China:
“It is…fitting that two English clubs are playing each other on the opening day of the London 2012 Olympics, in the stadium which hosted the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. We enjoy huge support in Asia and by playing a match in Beijing we will once again be bringing the club close to our loyal fans in China.”
Wang Shuyan, president of the Beijing Winoly International Sports Culture Co, says the match is part of the company’s strategic growth plan to bring top clubs and leagues to China, and claims the China Cup will “undoubtedly be the highest quality EPL match ever in China.”
Perhaps the China Cup is part of a burgeoning trend for the Asian sporting market, which seems no longer content to simply bring big-name teams over to trounce local teams in embarrassing fashion.
Bringing two famous clubs over to play each other means double the amount of stars and a higher quality of play, with a pretty decent chance the match will be competitive.
For those who might think local fans might be more interested in seeing their own teams take on the big boys, rest assured that it’s par for the course for China’s (and most of Asia’s) footballing fanatics to express fierce loyalties for teams they’ve never seen play live.
At a training match preceding last year’s Supercoppa Italiana between Milan and Internazionale, fisticuffs broke out after a Milan fan sat with his red jersey amidst a crowd of blue Inter fans. After refusing to remove his shirt, the poor chap had it removed for him, with the surrounding security guards being pretty useless as usual.