Real Madrid, the Premier League and Cristiano Ronaldo have picked up top honours in the 2019 Red Card Report.
The report, created by Mailman Group eight years ago, analyses the online presence of European football teams across Weibo, WeChat, websites, e-commerce platforms and apps to determine their influence in the lucrative China market.
Real Madrid was named the number one club in China, having won its 13th European Cup in May 2018 after beating Liverpool in the Uefa Champions League final, while Cristiano Ronaldo beat out 2018 winner Lionel Messi to claim the top spot in the hearts of the Chinese people.
According to the report, Ronaldo rose to the top after he visited China as part of a Nike tour, coinciding with the launch of his limited edition China-specific boots, reached 2 million total annual Weibo engagement through original China content, became the brand ambassador for Chinese automotive brand Wey by promoting their premium SUV models.
For the Premier League, it was named the number one league in China for the first time after it became the first European league to launch an official Chinese app and signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Chinese Football Association on youth development and promotion of both leagues
It also became the first football league to launch on Bytedance-owned TikTok (Douyin) and Jinri Toutiao, with the highest engagement and total followers, and had higher WeChat reads than all other European leagues combined.
"The Premier League and our clubs have a loyal and passionate fanbase in China and it is a great honour to receive this Red Card award,” said Richard Masters, the interim chief executive of the Premier League.
“The Premier League is committed to delivering more and better localised content in Mandarin, which is demonstrated by the recent launch of our official Chinese app and introduction of a local editorial team.”
In the digital awards category, Arsenal FC picked up the best digital campaign award for its #MerciArsene campaign, Copa90 for best China original content for their Derby Days video series with Beijing Guo’an and Shanghai Shenhua, Fifa for best sponsor activation for its Fifa World Cup Fan Dream Team by Hisense campaign, Juventus for best innovation after they became the first European football club to successfully launch on TikTok and Bayern Munich for best omnichannel activation for its China Youth Music Competition.