Portugal star and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list as the most influential football player online in Chinas whereas Catalan club Barcelona are the most dominant club, as per a report released by digital marketing agency Mailman.
The 'Red Card' report witnessed the 34-year-old footballer beating the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar to the race for the top spot second time in two consecutive years. As per the report, digital engagement with players has faced a downfall by 15 percent, but Ronaldo was one of the few players whose popularity and followers increased a lot from what it was in the previous year.
Ronaldo is ecstatic with the achievement
"I am very pleased with this award," Ronaldo said in a statement. "I know that I have a huge part of fans in China and it means a lot to be on top of the table for the second year in a row."
Barcelona topped the club standings, climbing from fifth place to overtake Spanish rivals Real Madrid. Chelsea took third spot to become the most influential English club in China, leapfrogging traditional heavyweights Manchester United and Liverpool.
English Premier League topped the chart in league rankings
In the league rankings, the English Premier League finished well ahead of Spain's La Liga and the German Bundesliga. China is now the Premier League's most lucrative overseas market, paying 564 million pounds ($737.54 million) for a three-year TV rights deal.
Notably, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, and Liverpool did not visit the region during their off-season break and dropped down the club rankings. The report referred to brands such as Arsenal and American-based basketball league NBA learning "a difficult lesson" in 2019, with their social media activity making a negative impact in China.
Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil had criticised China's treatment of its Uighur Muslims, prompting a social media backlash in the country against the club. The NBA is trying to repair damaged relations with China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey voiced support on Twitter for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
(With agency inputs)