How Football Ushered in the Year of the Monkey

The likes of Man City, Barcelona and Man United celebrated Chinese New Year on social media. We've taken a look at a few efforts to see who's winning the battle for Chinese fans' hearts.
February 10, 2016, 3:34pm

Yesterday marked Chinese New Year and football clubs across Europe were sloshing out all kinds of delicious content to celebrate the Year of the Monkey.

Despite Twitter being blocked in China, the likes of Man City, Barcelona and Man United tweeted messages of celebration, with some even producing lovely shiny videos. We've taken a look at a few efforts to see who's winning the battle for Chinese fans' hearts. And, I don't know, maybe their money, too.


Manchester City go hard on their Chinese New Year content, treating us to a video challenge for Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, Joe Hart and Fabian Delph. How exciting!

Alas, this seems to have been devised using the Weetabix Book of Global Cultures as a reference, with the players tasked with moving some ping-pong balls between two bowls using chopsticks. Squad makeweight Delph wins and describes it as "the greatest achievement of my life" in perhaps the least inspired voice you'll ever hear, suggesting he's not really taken the moving ping-pong balls with chopsticks challenge seriously. This is not an elite attitude, Fabian.

How steady are your hands?
Are you able to take on the chopstick challenge? #mcfc VIDEO:
— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) February 8, 2016

Obviously it's a bad idea. We're pretty sure the people who made it are intelligent and work hard, and their response to our criticism would be, "what would you do then, you smartarse website cacklers?" And the clear answer is this: do not get your players to move ping-pong balls with chopsticks in celebration of Chinese New Year. Don't do that. Do something else or don't do anything. Just don't do that.

Update: City are now relentlessly tweeting about pancakes.


A very simple video from Spurs, without even an attempt at speaking Chinese from one of their five lads (all of whom were born in the Year of the Monkey). Presumably Mo Poch's boys are reserving their strength for the upcoming clash with Manchester City, who'll be both physically and mentally knackered from the moving ping-pong balls with chopsticks challenge.

A special Happy New Year message to our fans around the world from our five players born in the #YearOfTheMonkey!
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 8, 2016

That kind of thing is far too risky for the North London club, of course. Imagine they had Harry Kane and Dele Alli perform some kind of Chinese-themed task only to suffer an injury? Losing their star players in such a manner would be the most Spursy way possible to blow an otherwise fantastic campaign.


Arsenal may trail Spurs in the Premier League table, but in the area their fans really care about – social media output – they've got their North London rivals beat. Their Chinese New Year content is headlined by a twee video in which Per Mertesacker fulfils his captain's duties by silently distributing gifts to his teammates.

Everyone at @Arsenal and @Emirates would like to wish all celebrating, a very happy Lunar New Year #YearoftheMonkey
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 8, 2016

Where to start with how bad this is? The music seems to have been borrowed from a Countryfile segment, or a very earnest advert from wholemeal bread. There's also the unsettling way Per wonders around without speaking to his teammates, instead tapping them on the shoulder and handing them a gift like some mute delivery giant. And the plot is weak as hell: Olivier Giroud is found practicing his shooting (stop, laugh, continue reading), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is doing keep-ups, while Theo Walcott is just sat in the changing room in full kit waiting for Per to gift him.

In fairness Theo does speak some Chinese, or at least what we assume is Chinese (we do not speak Chinese). And there's been some kind of charitable donation made, which is nice. Still, there are less lame ways to convey the message than this.


Here's storied Italian side Roma sending their Chinese New Year message, largely in the English language, with Poland's Wojciech Szczęsny, Belgian of Indonesian heritage Radja Nainggolan, Diego Perotti of Argentina, and Italian of Moroccan heritage Stephan El Shaarawy. If nothing else, this one kills it for outright multiculturalism – 10/10, well done Roma! Even the Chinese host is at it, speaking English in and Italian accent. Watch out for an absolute star turn from the boy Szczęsny, too.


Being rock bottom of the league, Villa probably enjoyed the chance to escape the agony of sustained failure and celebrate Chinese New Year. Brad Guzan's ebullient performance in this eclipses anything he's done on the pitch for Villa this term, while the club's big-name players have all failed to turn up. This video is basically their season in a nutshell.

Happy Lunar New Year to all our #AVFC fans celebrating around the world.
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) February 8, 2016


Here we are treated to Brazilian ace Neymar attempting to film a 'Happy Chinese New Year' video only to be distracted by constant wishes of "Happy Chinese New Year" from his teammates, all of whom bloody love Chinese New Year. The Brazilian receives a phonecall from Ivan Rakitic; he gets a text from goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen; and Thomas Vermaelen sends him a video message that somehow comes across more like a violent threat than good wishes for the Year of the Monkey. Apparently it takes a weird intra-team dynamic to be as good as Barca.


Dreadful effort from United, a club who supposedly claim millions of supporters across China. Just a bloody image. Of their bloody stadium! Obviously City's video is bad, but at least they tried. United did more about the bloody Super Bowl. Got news for you, United: the Super Bowl is not a huge country that pours money into your club. Priorities, lads.

Enjoy the celebrations!
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 8, 2016