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China v. Brazil, Seogwipo

Four stars for four World Cups
Four stars for four World Cups

It has long been an ambition of Phil’s to see Brazil play live. While I am not nearly the fan that Phil is, the thought of seeing Brazil was possibly the most enticing football-viewing prospect I could imagine, although I didn’t rate China’s chances much. Still, as a result, the game promised to have goals aplenty, and after our first goalless game, I was looking forward to seeing Brazil put a few away with style…

Chinese drummers add to  the pre-game fervour
Chinese drummers add to the pre-game fervour

Having learnt our lesson from attending our previous match, we reluctantly left the Ball at our hotel, and headed off armed only with cameras and large appetites. We arrived with our usual lateness at the stadium – again with tickets courtesy of (name withheld) – and spent a little time soaking up the pre-match atmosphere.

Chinese musicians play in front of a replica of Jeju's ancient statues
Chinese musicians play in front of a replica of Jeju’s ancient statues

My only previous run-in with the Brazilian fans was in Nantes at France ’98, where we watched the game on the big screen in town and watched them thrash Morocco. My overwhelming memory of them was, however, the friendliness they showed towards the opposition fans. This match was no exception either, as Chinese and Brazilians mingled in the pedestrian areas outside the stadium. I was delighted to see the Chinese reciprocating with gestures such as the one pictured above, where a Chinese is carrying a Brazilian flag.

Brazilian girl dances with Chinese man
A Brazilian girl dances with an X chromosome-challenged life unit of Chinese national origin…

The Brazilian girl has her picture taken in the midst of Chinese supporters
…and has her picture taken in the midst of Chinese supporters

Two Brazilians from the ferry pose with Chinese supporters
Two Brazilians from the ferry pose with Chinese supporters

Phil, Rob and I had lost touch with one another almost the instant we stepped out of our taxi, and so we all headed for the entrance on our own. It seemed to take an age to get through security, and when I finally did emerge into the stadium complex, I handed my ticket to a friendly-looking Korean woman, thinking that she would direct me to where I was supposed to be going. Instead, she tore the stub off my ticket and walked off, oblivious to my requests for assistance. I spent the next twenty minutes being passed from steward to steward none of whom seemed to know where my seat was. After a few frosty exchanges with obstinate security guards, it was with some relief that I found Phil and Rob tucking into the canapes amid Brazilian beauties and besuited FIFA officials.

Inverted Chinese flag during the national anthem
Chinese flag during the national anthem

A curious thing happened as the Chinese national anthem was played… the Chinese fans unfurled a huge Chinese flag, but inverted. I wondered if this had been deliberate, a joke of gigantic proportions, or simply an embarrassing mistake. I guess I’ll never find out, but it seemed to be at one and the same time patriotic and subversive, given that at the previous match – which coincided with the thirteenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre – Chinese banners had not been allowed at all.

What a beautiful stadium
What a beautiful stadium

The match lived up to expectations, as the Brazilians proceeded to demolish the Chinese with goals coming at regular fifteen minute intervals. How different the booing of the Chinese at every Brazilian touch of the ball seemed after the joyful scenes I had seen outside the ground. I was pleased, moreover, that the Chinese hadn’t been able to score at all. I imagined it would make it more difficult for the Chinese authorities to spin the defeat if there were no compensations to be had from the match. A Chinese goal would have meant that it would be repeated ad infinitum on the huge advertising screens in cities around China, but none at all perhaps meant they may just have to take a different approach.

Written by on Monday, June 10th, 2002

7 comments on this post

  1. Hello to Chris and Phil from your Candadian friend Jamie. I was lucky enough to run into Chris, Phil and Rob at Chungmun beach outside of Seogwipo. Three of the best people I have met. I just would like to take the time to say thanks for spending time with Dean and I. We had a blast at the beach, and after meeting up post game Brazil China.

    Good luck in the rest of your journey and somebody out there give these guys tickets to England-Brazil. They deserve it.


  2. Cheers Jamie

    What a beach that is… I’d like to go back ‘n’ you’re not wrong about the tickets…

    What a game it could be… come on you England!

  3. If I see another “chinaman” in your Website, i’ll bring it down.

    Got it?!

  4. OK, I think I geddit, Gary. My bad.

    FYI, I have replaced all instances of “chinaman” on this website with the more politically correct “X chromosome-challenged life unit of Chinese national origin”.

    Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

  5. ¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡Que porquería!!!!!!!!!!

  6. China the best!!!

    China must won Asian Cup 2004, but referee think another way. And Japs started playing hand.

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The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.