Fans of French football club Lyon captured everyone’s attention after they suddenly formed the Tibetan flag at the stands during a French Ligue 1 match on Saturday afternoon.
While the stunt may appear to be a political statement in support of the Tibetan people, the Lyon supporters’ gesture is mainly intended to annoy viewers in China.
As it turned out, the fans were expressing their dismay over the forced irregular start times for games intended to be broadcast live in China, reports Shanghaiist.
Lyon’s match against opposing club Nantes had to be rescheduled to 1:30 p.m. so that Chinese viewers could watch the game live.
During the match, a section of the crowd held up colored signs forming the Tibetan flag. The phrases “Free Tibet” and “Free Ligue 1” were also seen displayed.
Proponents of the said “protest” declared that they are against the league’s blatant market-oriented approach. They lamented that while viewers in China are being targeted, fans at home are being forced to adjust to the irregular start times.
Ligue 1 is among the most popular foreign football leagues in China, with England’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga leading the pack.
Last year, the league signed a live broadcast deal with Suning Sports in a bid to move up in popularity among Chinese fans. The league even played a preseason match in Shenzhen as a promotion.
Lyon fans are reportedly hoping that the presence of more giant Tibetan flags showing up during future matches would make live broadcasts to China more difficult.