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Although it is the world’s most populous country, China’s only FIFA World Cup appearance was in 2002. China lost all three games in the first round and scored zero goals.
The pathetic team has become a national joke. Still, Chinese fans were as crazy about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as they have been about every World Cup. It was said that 45 million Chinese fans stayed up to watch live games at 2:30am (Beijing time) – the most fans from any country that didn’t have its national team in the field. But this year, Chinese fans finally have a reason to feel like part of the world’s No.1 sports event even if their national team was disqualified again; they cheerfully found a first-ever Chinese ad on the field – China Yingli (in Chinese).
Most Chinese fans had never heard of the company, but they know that being a FIFA World Cup marketing affiliate is seriously something. Just think about all of the other regular big-name sponsors: Budweiser, Coca Cola, Adidas, VISA, etc.
Chinese fans that searched the Internet for anything about Yingli found out that it is a Chinese solar company publicly traded on the NYSE. Headquartered in Baoding, Hebei Province, Yingli is one of the world’s largest vertically integrated PV manufacturers.
It is symbolic of China’s ambition for renewable energy that the first Chinese company to put an ad on the World Cup field is a solar company. Yingli is also the only green energy company out of FIFA's four partners, eight World Cup sponsors and six national supporters.
Did I mention that BP and Castrol are also in the list?
To me, it is China’s first score in the World Cup.
This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard.
Kevin Mo is Director of NRDC's International Sustainable Buildings Project. The Natural Resources Defense Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the environment, people and animals. NRDC was founded in 1970 and is comprised of more than 300 lawyers, scientists and policy experts, with more than one million members and e-activists.