Coke brings World Cup trophy to China

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Fans take photos of the World Cup trophy at Wujiaochang Wanda Plaza in Shanghai yesterday.

Eighty-eight is considered a lucky number by most Chinese people. This week, the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola brought some luck to China. China is the 88th stop on the tour, the third-last stop of a 148,000-kilometer journey covering 90 countries before going to Brazil, which hosts the much anticipated FIFA World Cup.

It marked the second time the World Cup trophy has been displayed in China after it was in Beijing in 2006. After eight years, Coca-Cola is giving Chinese fans another chance to get a close look and take photos with the trophy, which has been raised by legendary soccer players like Brazil's Pele, Diego Maradona of Argentina, and Frenchman Zinedine Zidane.

This time, the trophy was in Beijing's Imperial Ancestral Temple and Chaoyang Joy City on Monday and Tuesday. It stopped in Shanghai at Daning International Plaza and Wujiaochang Wanda Plaza yesterday.

"Soccer is the world's most popular sport, and China has the largest number of soccer fans in the world. This year, Coca-Cola has once again joined hands with FIFA to bring global fans the utmost unique trophy experience. With the appearance of the authentic trophy in China, we sincerely wish a bright future for Chinese soccer," said David Brooks, chairman of the Coca-Cola China and Korea business unit. His fluent Chinese won applause at the capital's Imperial Ancestral Temple.

FIFA Ambassador Christian Karembeu, Vice President of the China Football Association Lin Xiaohua, and former Chinese national team captain Fan Zhiyi also attended the World Cup trophy unveiling ceremony in Beijing on Monday.

FIFA presented a souvenir trophy to the Chinese Football Association at the event. Lin said it means a great deal that the World Cup trophy is in China.

"The soccer dream is a part of the Chinese dream. Chinese share the same wish, which is to fight for, to host and to thrive in FIFA World Cup," Lin said.

"To raise the FIFA World Cup trophy is the ultimate dream of every soccer player," said Fan, who captained the national team when China made its first and only World Cup finals appearance at the 2002 Japan-South Korea tournament. He first saw the trophy in France during the 1998 World Cup.

"It was an honor. When you get close to the trophy, you feel physically attracted to it," Fan said.

Fan, the first ever Chinese Asian Footballer of the Year, also thanked Coca-Cola for its long-term support of Chinese soccer. "In the year Coca-Cola established cooperation with Chinese soccer, the national team advanced to the World Cup finals, it's a sign of good luck," Fan said. "I hope we will see it happen again."

Brooks said he hopes the trophy will encourage and inspire Chinese soccer players, especially the next generation.

"We know about President Xi Jinping's three wishes for Chinese soccer — to enter the World Cup finals, to host a World Cup, and to raise a World Cup trophy. Coca-Cola is also very concerned about the development of soccer in China."

In addition, Coca-Cola released its official Chinese anthem for the FIFA World Cup campaign — The World is Ours — featuring vocals from MayDay and music from Monobloco, a Brazilian street band. The anthem brings the music of Brazil to the world and captures the rhythms of samba, baile funk and technobraga.

The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola kicked off in September 2013 with an official launch ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It stopped in 87 countries prior to its arrival in China.

The journey included the first ever pan-Latin America tour, with events in 39 countries. Upon its return to Brazil for the World Cup finals, the trophy will have visited 51 countries that had never had the opportunity to host the trophy before. The Coca-Cola Company has had a relationship with FIFA since 1974 and has been an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup since 1978.

Coca-Cola and FIFA organized the first global trophy tour in 2006 and the second was completed four years later. Hopefully some of that good luck will rub off on the Chinese national team.

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