Spanish giants Barcelona join Olympic countdown
Spanish champions Barcelona led by playmaker Ronaldinho will play an exhibition match here on August 5 to help launch the one-year countdown to the Beijing Olympics, city officials said.
The outgoing European champions will play Chinese Super league club Beijing Guo'an, according to Sun Kanglin, the director of the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau.
Barcelona's top stars will all be coming to China for the August 3-6 tour, said Sun, including Ronaldinho, the 2004 and 2005 World Player of the Year who is China's favourite foreign player, according to a recent survey of 30,000 sports fans.
The announcement dominated sports pages in Beijing newspapers on Tuesday.
"Beijing Guo'an will cherish the opportunity to play with such a strong team," club general manager Li Xiaoming said in the Beijing Times.
The Olympics opens on August 8, 2008 and Beijing sports officials are planning a series of events to mark the one-year countdown including a table tennis tournament featuring 10,000 players.
Barcelona, who visited China in 2004 and 2005, are also playing games in Japan and Hong Kong as part of their Asian tour.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Fulham, Portsmouth and Reading are among other European clubs embarking on Asian tours in the coming months.