Inter has always been a special club in China. Really, it couldn’t be any different considering the 130 million Nerazzurri fans present in the country, as well as the club’s majority shareholder being Suning Holdings Group. 40 years ago in June 1978, Eugenio Bersellini’s Inter side were the first team in the history of Italian football to visit China. They had just won their second ever Coppa Italia and and flown to Beijing at the end of the season to play four friendlies. The first took place in June 12th against the China National Team, being played out in front of 80,000 people. The Nerazzurri delegation, led by Sandro Mazzola, still have fond memories of their unique trip, one which was full of cultural awakenings. Three months later, the China National Team took part in their own tour, which started with a friendly against Inter at San Siro and then continued across Europe.
Inter’s tour of China was then replicated in 2015 and 2017, with the squad spending part of their pre-season preparations in some of the country’s most important cities. In 1999, China embraced the Inter Campus project, which was launched to help children in need get involved in sport. August 2009 saw the Supercoppa Italiana final played in China for the first time. As reigning Italian champions, José Mourinho’s Inter side took on Lazio at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. The result did not go in the Nerazzurri’s favour that day, however, it was notably the start of a campaign that ultimately ended with an unforgettable treble. The Supercoppa final and growing Nerazzurri passion also led to the launch of the first Chinese Inter Clubs. The Supercoppa Italiana returned to Beijing once again just two years later, with a Milanese derby being played out in front of 70,000 people at the Bird’s Nest in 2011.
Inter Forever also have a unique connection with China. On three different occasions, 2014, 2015 and 2017, the team of retired Nerazzurri champions, captained by Francesco Toldo, have toured the Asian country. July 2015 saw Inter Academy open their first base in China – the Yitao Inter Academy in Shanghai – which was then followed by the Jiangsu Academy in Nanjing, and the Yihai Academy in Beijing.