ESPN Star site tracks Chinese soccer fans' favourites

With the soccer fever on the rise, ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has found that Chinese sports fans have already made their minds up about their favourite soccer teams.

In a survey conducted on its website last month, fans were asked to name the football team from which they would have liked to receive an authentic uniform. Most of the Chinese fans chose "Manchester United" over any other team. Over the 85,500 entries which were recorded, 23,451 or 27.41 per cent were clear that Manchester United were their top choice. Although agreed by many to be the most popular "English Premier League" team in the world, Manchester United won by a wafer- thin margin with rival Liverpool gathering 23,263 or 27.19 per cent of the entries.

The results also revealed that the Chinese fans were not only knowledgeable about soccer and the teams from the "English Premier League", but also from other European Leagues as well. Others who made it to the top five were "Inter Milan" with 21,539 or 25.17 per cent votes, "Roma" with 13,659 or 15.96 per cent votes and "Arsenal" with 3,653 or 4.27 per cent votes.

In another survey conducted on the website, asking which two teams in Group C would make it to the second round of the World Cup, 8,852 or 50.16 per cent of the 17,600 odd entries were confident that China and Brazil would cover the distance. However, while confidence and excitement is high among the majority of football crazy Chinese in anticipation of their first World Cup appearance, 35.59 per cent of the respondents recorded showed less optimism for their progress beyond the first round.

These fans picked Brazil and Turkey as the possible second round teams. Other choices which were voted were China and Costa Rica with 5.93 per cent or 1,046 entries, followed by China and Turkey with 5.33 per cent or 940 entries.

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