Breaking News: Some Pandas Have Played a World Cup-Themed Football Match

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3:09 AM HKT, Sat June 16, 2018

Stop what you’re doing: some pandas have had a World Cup-themed kick about.

State media CGTN brought us this fast-paced action:

This new twist in panda diplomacy went kind of as you’d expect: oddly. The closest they got to anything we’re likely to see at the actual World Cup in Russia was a bit of hooliganism when one panda cub tore down some flags.

China, of course, isn’t at the World Cup this year. At least their team isn’t. 100,000 Chinese fans have reportedly made the trip to Russia to spectate, while Chinese media has been carefully tracking the progress of a train filled with crayfish — this season’s go-to snack in China — headed for World Cup host cities. There’s 100,000 of them, too.

There have also been some huge sponsorship deals, so expect to see plenty of Chinese characters on the billboards surrounding the pitches as the tournament progresses.

But wait, it gets more bizarre: over in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, there was more World Cup animal weirdness with a game featuring…penguins. Seems that China’s attitude towards animals in sports is quite black and white (ba-dum-tss). There’s a video of that here in case you want to see how the match went.

Shame China can’t field some of these penguins in its actual games — they might make for better entertainment than the men’s national team.

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