Chinese soccer fan's pitch antic goes viral

2023-06-16 11:19:16China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A screenshot from Messi's fan club twitter.

During a friendly soccer match between Australia and Argentina in Beijing Thursday, a Chinese fan ran onto the field to hug soccer legend Lionel Messi.

The fan was chased by security but managed to high-five goalkeeper Emi Martinez before being caught. The crowd in the stadium cheered and shouted "niu bi" in Chinese, which means "awesome!" The fan did not lose his smile even as he was being carried away by security.

The video of the fan, which went viral on Chinese social media, had nearly 300 million views with the hashtag "fan rushes to hug Messi on field" on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform, as of Friday morning.

Most netizens expressed their admiration to the fan. Many others exclaimed he ran really fast, and even some joked with such quick legs the fan should join China's national soccer team.

In an interview with Messi's fan club on Twitter, the fan named Di apologized for his behavior. "I hugged Messi this time, but I didn't get a chance to get his autograph. Next time I want to go to Miami and ask Messi for an autograph. But I won't rush to the pitch and repeat today's mistake, it's a wrong thing to do," he said.

In another interview video, the 18-year-old told China's Hongxing News that he has liked Messi since 2014 and wanted Messi to feel the mania of Chinese fans by his rushing onto the field. He wanted to tell that China is also a soccer country, with the same soccer craze as other nations.

Di said he was extremely happy to tell his mother about his antic. He added he will mount the picture of him hugging Messi.

The friendly match attracted more than 50,000 soccer fans to the Workers' Stadium on Thursday night. The game was the first time Messi and his Argentine squad have played a match in a foreign country since winning the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last year.

Since Saturday, when Messi and his teammates arrived in Beijing, Chinese fans showed great enthusiasm. Large crowds waited for photographs and chanted Messi's name outside the team's hotel and on the sidewalk.

This is the eighth time that Messi has come to China. He visited China for the first time in 2004 when he was 17 years old, and he participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning a gold medal with Argentina's national team.

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