China has labelled Manchester City as being aloof and disrespectful during the club’s pre-season tour in the country.
The reigning English Premier League champions played in the Chinese cities of Nanjing and Shanghai for the Asia Trophy competition, where they won and lost a match.
However, after the club departed the world’s most populous country, Xinhua News Agency, the official state-run press agency, published an editorial with the headline “Chinese fans’ love for Man City goes unreciprocated on home soil” on its English language website.
According to The Guardian, the editorial criticised the club for failing to engage with local media and supporters, said City only came to China to make money, compared to the other two Premier League clubs who were also in the competition, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United.
“For the Premier League champions, their appearance in China was nothing more than a commercial obligation, and their lack of enthusiasm and the indifferent treatment of their hosts stands in stark contrast to representatives of other clubs,” said the editorial.
“For Manchester City, they saw their recent success as a reason not to treat Chinese and foreigners with the same respect. Above all, it was an orientalist expectation on display by the Manchester City press relations staff that Chinese media would operate as an extension of their PR department, rather than as serious football journalists.
“An attitude of arrogance and the belief that they were the main attraction to the Premier League Asia Trophy was misplaced and stood in direct contrast to the other clubs.
“Wolves could not do more to engage with fans and even Newcastle, despite arriving under a cloud of off-field negativity, treated China with the utmost respect and dignity. Today those clubs leave China with a new-found respect and new fans; Manchester City leaves China with neither.”
While the Citizens declined to comment on the editorial, they looked to pacify the country by running a story titled “Bernardo and De Bruyne amazed by reaction in China” on its website which showcased how the club engaged with excited Chinese fans, behind-the-scenes of its training sessions and fan sessions.
City Football Group (CFG), which owns the club, sold a 13% stake of the club to the Chinese Media Capital consortium in 2015. In May, City entered into a multi-year partnership with Chinese liquor brand JNC.
In early 2019, CFG purchased Chengdu-based Sichuan Jiuniu FC together with China Sports Capital and Ubtech in a joint venture. It has also launched an eSports team in the country.