Friday 07 June 2019, 08:16

The Brazilian who is China PR’s biggest fan

  • Gustavo Rodrigues de Vargas is obsessed by Chinese women’s football

  • He runs two social media accounts dedicated to the Steel Roses

  • LIVE BLOG: Germany-China PR

By Qian Sun with China PR

You might be surprised to learn that one of the most loyal fans of China PR's women’s football team is actually from Brazil.

Since 2015, Gustavo Rodrigues de Vargas, a 24-year-old journalism student from Caxias do Sul - a small town in southern Brazil - has been running Twitter and Facebook accounts devoted to China's women’s national team. They have become the go-to accounts for information about Chinese women’s football in English.

Gustavo’s passion for Chinese women football can be traced back to the 2008 Olympics, when he was just 13. He still remembers the China-Argentina game when Steel Roses’ regular Gu Yasha, then just 18, came on as a substitute and scored a match-winning goal in the 90th minute.

That was the moment he fell in love with the team. From there, he started to look into the history and read tales of the golden generation of Chinese women’s football: about Sun Wen, Gao Hong, Liu Ailing and more.

But Gustavo’s fascination with China dates back even further. Since childhood, he has admired the rich history and culture of the country – “and the pandas”, he admits.

In the football world, he admires the style of the Chinese team: their doggedness in defence and energy in attack. Having devoted himself to learning everything there is to know about the country's women’s football and its players, you’ll find Gustavo engrossed in all things China throughout France 2019.

But as his Mandarin is still quite rusty, it was difficult to learn about the team in those early days. In 2014, when he knew that China were playing a tournament in Brasilia against the likes of Brazil, USA and Argentina, he went along to report for the website Surto Olímpico - a company he still works for today. It was the first time he had watched a China match live. He also went to every one of the team’s training sessions.

Then in 2015 came the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada, when Gustavo created the Twitter and Facebook accounts. “I want to show Chinese women’s football to the world”, he explained. “This amazing team needs much more attention than they are getting right now.”

By now, he knows all the players by heart and is well aware of their strengths and capabilities. He is a big admirer of the consistent Liu Shanshan and a long-time fan of Gu Yasha. But to him, every player in the team is special.

Assured in his knowledge of China’s women, he is less confident, though, about predicting their prospects at France 2019. “Even though I follow China so closely, it is very hard to predict,” he said. “Group B is very tough with Germany, Spain and South Africa, so getting to the knockout phase would in itself be a great achievement.”