Football Culture

Chinese fans lap up Leo Messi inspired mate

Chinese football fans have been snapping up official Argentina branded mate kits after being inspired by the FC Barcelona captain.

Chinese fans lap up Leo Messi inspired mate

It's not uncommon to see the likes of Luis Suárez, Éver Banega, Leo Messi and even Antoine Griezmann turn up ahead of games clutching small gourds containing mate, a beverage made from dried yerba mate leaves that is the preferred tipple for many South Americans, especially Argentinians, Uruguayans and Paraguayans.

Mate is prepared by steeping dried leaves of yerba mate in hot water and is served with a metal straw from a shared hollow wooden calabash-shaped gourd.

Tea in China

One of the more curious revelations at the recent World Football Summit '19 staged in Madrid was the disclosure from Yanyu Zheng (former FC Barcelona head of digital for China and now co-founder of Beijing-based All Star Partner) who illustrated how, after forging a joint venture with the Argentina Football Federation, they have started to sell significant quantities of customised online mate kits in China with thousands of local Leo Messi fans anxious to sample the same beverage as their Argentine hero.

Chinese AFA branded mate

Zheng admitted: "After discussing the initiative with AFA and talking to local fan groups we realised that the drink (mate) generated a considerable amount of curiosity among Chinese football fans. We've also been pleasantly surprised to see that over time our Chinese consumers are now not just limited to the local football community".