27 July 2012
DUBAI, U.A.E., 27th July 2012: Arsenal were dressed to impress as they took to the field to face Man City at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium for the second match of their Asia tour. Wearing shirts with the iconic Emirates logo in simplified Chinese for the first time, the players got a rousing reception as the surprised crowd showed their appreciation for the special gesture to the club’s legion of fans in China.
Emirates, the Presenting Sponsor of the Arsenal Tour 2012, then released a 10m x 10m giant version of the shirt into the crowd which was passed around some of the 60,000 spectators who saw Arsenal lose 2-0 to their English Premier League rivals.
“Since we began our partnership with Arsenal in 2004 our goal has always been to bring Arsenal closer to its millions of followers across the 125 destinations we fly to every day,” said Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman Emirates Airline & Group. “By sponsoring this tour, the aim was to help Arsenal connect with Asia’s growing number of football fans and, from the reaction of the supporters, the shirt really captured that spirit.
“The passion for football is incredible in Asia and the crowd response in Malaysia earlier in the week was equally impressive. Next stop is Hong Kong and with the match already sold out, we are looking forward to seeing another stadium packed with fans relishing this rare opportunity to see Arsenal play in their home country,” added Sir Maurice.
Arsenal also values how Emirates and the club are working together to strengthen the relationship with football supporters in Asia.
“Over the last eight years we have worked together with Emirates to extend our global fan-base and create opportunities that allow us to interact with those supporters regardless of where they are in the world,” said Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s Chief Executive. “By partnering with Emirates for this year's tour, we have been able to directly engage with our fans in Malaysia and China, through unique soccer school activities and business events.
“We had a wonderful reception last year, and the level of support and genuine emotion for the club shown by everyone this year has left us truly humbled. The match at the Bird's Nest, symbolically on the eve of the Olympics in our hometown of London, gave us the opportunity to illustrate the talent and quality of the Premier League to a new audience. We are thankful to Emirates for their continued support.”
Emirates also staged a number of other activities to help fans connect with the club. In the build-up to the matches in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing – as well as at the forthcoming fixture in Hong Kong, the international airline - which connects China to its global network with 35 weekly flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou – provided an experience of a lifetime for 200 youngsters.
The boys and girls, aged between eight and 15, were thrilled as a number of players – including Thomas Vermaelen, Alex Song, Mikel Arteta, Wojciech Szczesny and Abou Diaby - gave them football master classes, while they were also presented with an Arsenal kit as a memento of their day. In addition, a number of children had the chance to lead the players on to the pitch as match day mascots.
“It gives us great pride that - through our partnership with Arsenal - we are able to stage initiatives that can make a lasting impression on youngsters,” added Sir Maurice. “Coaching sessions encourage the development of young players, while meeting a footballer idolised by millions can have an incredible impact on children, both on a sporting and personal level, which can only be positive for their development and the growth of football.”
Spectators at the Bird’s Nest have the opportunity to tag themselves in a picture taken by the Emirates FanCam, a 10 billion pixel 360-degree image which has captured every person in the stadium. Visit www.emiratesfancam.com/arsenal to find and tag yourself in the crowd, plus spot a member of the Emirates cabin crew to be in with a chance to win a signed Arsenal Tour 2012 shirt.
And while it might be some time before most fans in Asia see Arsenal live in action again, that won’t be the case for the six lucky Gunners supporters who won flights with Emirates to London to see their heroes play an English Premier League match at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal’s final match in Asia will take place in Hong Kong on Sunday against local champions Kitchee FC.