On 12 June, Michael Owen kicked-off a tour of China in Beijing, his first visit since retiring from professional football.
He plans to visit Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Shanghai over the next four days. In each city, he plans to encourage young Chinese fans to play football and meet with his weibo followers.
Michael Owen gave his support to the UK’s ‘GREAT Britain’ campaign, a promotional campaign to show all that the UK has to offer and encourage people in China to choose the UK as a destination for tourism, study, investment and doing business. As one of the UK’s most well-known and successful sportspeople, Michael Owen is an excellent representative of the UK’s sporting heritage.
Last year was an outstanding one for British sport, with the Olympic and Paralympic Games showcasing the talent of the athletes, the quality of the UK’s venues and the UK’s enthusiasm as hosts. In 2012, nearly one million visitors to Britain watched a football match last year, and the Premier League remains one of the most closely followed sporting tournaments in the world.
Michael Owen’s visit is another high-profile example of the increasing number of people-to-people exchanges between the UK and China. In 2012, over 286,000 UK visas were issued to Chinese applicants, up 24% on the previous year.
Michael Owen said:
I’m really pleased to be back in China. The fans here are really passionate and it’s great to have the chance to meet my weibo followers. I’m proud to be an ambassador for the UK and English football when I’m overseas. I hope that my visit will encourage fans in China to come to the UK to experience English football for themselves.