Barcelona has overtaken fellow La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid to become China’s most popular soccer club online, based off Mailman’s 2020 Red Card report.
In Mailman’s 2020 rankings, it shows that Barcelona have risen significantly from fifth to first place since last year, mainly due off the back of their impressive growth on Chinese social media.
The club’s followers on Chinese social media platform Weibo went up from eight million to 16.3 million, a massive 104 per cent jump. In turn Barcelona improved on it’s engagement through Weibo, trending up 45 per cent from their 2018 efforts.
The club also gained huge exposure on short form video platform Douyin, with Lionel Messi’s penalty pass to Luis Suarez ranking as the fourth most watched video last year, accumulating 64 million views and 2.3 million engagements.
“[The award is] a testament to the effort, teamwork and innovation of all of those involved with FC Barcelona in China,” said Barcelona Board Member Didac Lee.
“Our challenge is to create content for China that is bespoke to the ever-evolving digital landscape, culture and habits of this market and we’re proud to be recognised for outstanding fan growth and engagement.”
In English Premier League standings, Chelsea are the most popular club from England and sit third in Mailman’s rankings overall.
There are two more Premier League outfits in the top five, with Manchester City and Manchester United in fourth and joint fifth alongside Juventus respectively.
City went up from ninth place in 2019 to leapfrog rivals United this year, while Liverpool are seventh, dropping down a single place.
The Premier League itself is the most popular competition with China’s digital community, ahead of the LaLiga which overtook the Bundesliga to claim second place. The German top-tier sits third, recording its lowest ever ranking.
“To receive this Red Card award for the second year running is a great honour and testament to the Premier League and our clubs’ loyal fanbase in China,” said Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters.
“We witnessed their passionate support during last year’s successful Premier League Asia Trophy in Nanjing and Shanghai, something that has been reflected by the growing popularity of our digital coverage in the country.”
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular player with China’s digital soccer fans according to Mailman, ahead of Neymar and Lionel Messi respectively.
It’s the second consecutive year that Ronaldo has topped the poll, being one of the few players to see increased engagement and followers on Weibo despite a decrease in soccer-related user activity on the platform. Neymar found himself the most followed player on rival platform Douyin.
“I am very pleased with this award. I know that I have a huge part of fans in China and it means a lot to be on top of the table for the second year in a row,” said Ronaldo.
Chinese fans have contributed many commercial opportunities for European soccer clubs, with an estimated AUD$98.9 million of digital sponsorship revenue still on the table, according to Mailman.