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Happiness Together: Cross-border friendship in the football stands

Global Stringer

 , Updated 23:10, 22-Mar-2024

Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed his love for sports on multiple occasions. During one interview, he shared his love for several sports, stating, "I enjoy swimming, mountaineering and other sports. I learned how to swim when I was four or five years old. I also like sports such as football, volleyball, basketball, tennis, martial arts and more."

President Xi is more than just an avid sports enthusiast. He also actively promotes sports development in China, as well as international sports exchanges and cooperation. He believes that sports are a significant indicator of societal development and human progress, serving as a bridge for promoting cultural exchanges and mutual understanding among people.

On November 19, 2013, during a meeting with President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, Xi emphasized that "sports can not only improve the level of people's health, but also promote the mutual understanding and friendship among people from different countries."

In 1998, Brandon Chemers, an American driven by his enduring fascination with China, arrived alone in Beijing from Chicago. Growing up as a fervent football enthusiast, Chemers believed that delving into a city's football teams was the most efficient and effective way to familiarize oneself with the city. It was through football that this American forged a profound friendship with Beijing's football fans, establishing an unbreakable bond not only with the city of Beijing but with China as a whole.

Chemers says, "The stands resemble a big siheyuan (courtyard house), where everyone there is regarded as family members. Whenever I step into the stands on match days and when the chants begin, irrespective of whether those around you are acquainted, they instinctively place a hand on your shoulder, standing next to you, shoulder to shoulder, collectively rallying behind the team." Indeed, football possesses such compelling allure that it transcends racial and national boundaries, serving as a conduit for people to connect and communicate.

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