Contributed by: Ash Nugent Saturday, June 26 2010 @ 01:00 pm ACST
The Vice President of China, Xi Jinping, attended last week's AFL match between Carlton and Fremantle on the invitation of dignitaries which included, "AFL commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and Victorian premier John Brumby." Xi has previously been named amongst the Top 100 most influential people in the world, by Time magazine.
After the rules were explained in Mandarin by a Southern Dragons player, Xi expressed an interest in the sport, enquiring if any players were of Chinese heritage and was excited by the prospect of future players being recruited from China. When he later addressed a trade delegation, he even made mention of his night at the footy. If the sport has made a positive impression on Xi, this could add serious momentum to the sport's expansion into the world's biggest country, as Xi is likely successor to current president Hu Jintao.
Melbourne play the Brisbane Lions in an exhibition match at Jiangwan Sports Centre in Shanghai on 17 October 2010, with a crowd of up to 30,000 a possibility.