The headline awards were assessed by Mailman’s traditional metrics, while the six digital awards were judged by a carefully chosen panel of 12 industry-leading experts in China across agencies, broadcasters, and media. This year again includes the Weibo Award and Douyin Award, chosen by the platforms themselves.

The Red Card also provides detailed analysis, insights, and projections regarding China’s fast-evolving digital sports landscape.


No.1 Club Online: FC Barcelona

No.1 League Online: Premier League

No.1 Player Online: Cristiano Ronaldo


Best Original Production: Real Madrid

Best Sponsorship: Paris Saint-Germain & Accor

Best CSR Initiative: Inter Milan

Best Live Stream: Chelsea FC

Best Creative Campaign: FC Bayern Munich

Best Ecommerce Initiative: Wolverhampton Wanderers


Most Influential on Weibo: Manchester City

Most Viewed on Douyin: Premier League

Barcelona’s Winning Year

1. Most followed football club and highest engagement on Douyin

2. Most followed Spanish football club on Weibo

3. Second highest total Weibo engagement for all European football clubs

Enric Llopart, Director of FC Barcelona Digital: “We are immensely proud to receive this distinction for the second year running as the best online club in China and from such a leading consultancy as Mailman. This award confirms our leadership in a key market for Barça and encourages us to continue innovating to connect with our audiences in such a dynamic digital setting as China. This prize is also an important recognition of our constant quest for new formats and content adapted to the local culture, interests and platform dynamics, which allowed us to increase the Club’s fanbase by 60% last season.”

Premier League’s Winning Year:

1. Leads in every single category of the Red Card 2021 performance metrics

2. Douyin: 43M+ total engagement, nearly 50% higher levels of engagement than second placed LaLiga, the Premier League is the most engaged and viewed football account

3. Weibo: 80% higher engagement than second placed LaLiga and 28% higher than the Bundesliga

Richard Masters, Premier League Chief Executive: “Football fans in China have shown their loyal and passionate support for Premier League clubs for many years, so we are proud to have won the Red Card award again. Our innovative digital coverage has continued to evolve and prove popular with fans in China, at a time when the importance of digital content in people’s lives has been emphasised during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to provide new ways for fans in the country to engage with the Premier League, as we look at developing our digital presence in China.”

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Winning Year

1. Grew 7.7M followers within the first month of launching on Kuaishou, as he became an official ambassador for the short-form video platform. This launch helped to double his total China social following.

2. His launch on Kuaishou hit the headlines across all key sports media in China, prompting reporters to focus on the ongoing battle between Douyin and Kuaishou.

3. The most followed and engaged player on Weibo with 7.4M followers, and 5x higher Weibo engagement than the second most engaged player Neymar Jr.

Cristiano Ronaldo: “Thank you to everyone for this award for the 3rd time. I know how passionate the Chinese fans are about football, and this is a real honor for me. I wish you all my very best and hope to see you soon.”

Luis Correia, CEO, Polaris Sports: “Cristiano keeps getting better and better every day. Goals, top performances and a winning attitude make him the best example for all generations, that talent and hard work together are the key to success. His social media success in China is testament to the respect and popularity he has earned all over the world.”

Andrew Collins, Mailman Group CEO: “Record engagement on Weibo and a 50% surge in Douyin accounts underscores the acceleration in sports digital across China. It’s tribute to how the football industry pivoted to entertain fans during an exceptional 12 months, and I’m excited for more powerful storytelling and community rallying throughout 2021.”

Methodology: The full methodology is available on request.

test test