China 'bragging rights' to England and Man United

A new report has tackled the question as to which foreign football nation is the the favourite of mainland Chinese. According to Dr Sue Bridgewater, a researcher in the University of Warwick's Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom, the bragging rights currently go to England. Having surveyed football fans in the Peoples Republic of China during World Cup 2006, her report to The Football Association of England shows much more interest among Chinese fans in international football (78.01%) than Chinese local football (31.24%).

English football fared best of all among such supporters. In major tournaments where China was not present, 96.3% of Chinese fans supported another international team. England was by the most supported "second" team (26.35%), followed by Brazil (20.61%), Argentina (11.82%), Italy (10.81%) and Germany (10.81%).

When Chinese fans were asked which team they had seen most frequently England fared even better: 27.2% listed England followed by Brazil ( 12.9% ), Italy ( 11.2% ). Next came English Premier League club Manchester United which, at 9.5%, was rated above all remaining international teams.

The research found that the most commonly seen international football shirt in China is the England national shirt (40.56% of respondents report seeing it 'very often') followed by Manchester United (30.42%) and Italy (29.72%). Shirts reported as 'seen often" included Argentina (35.66%), Real Madrid (29.22%) and AC Milan (29.72%). Those recorded as being 'not seen often' included Spain, Chelsea, Germany, France and Inter Milan.

When Chinese fans were asked to rank of the top three international football shirts seen in China. they listed England first (43.9%) some distance ahead of Real Madrid (12.14%). The shirt most commonly listed second was Manchester United (21.75%) followed by Brazil (19.85%). AC Milan was most frequently listed third (27.51%).

Just over 54% of the fans surveyed owned a football shirt. Again England came top - 19.6% owned an England shirt, 13.9% a Manchester United shirt, 8.8% AC Milan and 8.23% Italy. Almost one quarter owned more than one international football shirt. Over 75% of respondents knew where to buy an England shirt and almost the same percentage could buy one locally in a sports good store or market. England shirts were available in all the Chinese provinces covered by the research.

Nearly 71% of respondents followed the Chinese national team but levels of active support by match attendance, or consulting media about the Chinese national team were lower (only 27.1%) than those for local Chinese football. "This probably reflected the higher frequency and proximity of Chinese club football compared with the lower frequency of Chinese presence in international competition. When asked to list their post popular local Chinese the top teams were Beijing Guoan, Dalian Shide, Shandong Luneng and Shanghai Shenhua," Dr `Bridgewater's statement said.