Football in Shanghai

There are many options for playing football in Shanghai.

On the Shanghai Expat sports forums, for a start, you will see many offers for casual 7 or 5 a side games to join. You can also see many posts from people who seemingly cannot read – because they ask ‘are there any games I can join?’, despite that subforum already being full of offers and games.

The more competitive options:


SIFL is the Saturday league. There are two leagues, the lower being called the first division and the first one being called, somewhat ludicrously, the ‘Premier League’.

Though most men think that they are better at football (or any sport or thing) than they really are, and though some of the teams are a bit Ra Ra Ra faux-machismo and contrived blokiness and mateship, there are still a lot of good teams and good people / mates to be found by joining one of these teams.

Getting in to a team can be difficult on the Saturday league, just because most teams have at least 15 regulars. Nonetheless, it is worth sending an email (addresses of teams in the SIFL pages) and seeing if they need players.


The SPL is essentially the Sunday version of SIFL, with games mostly played in Jinqiao. The level is worse than the Saturday ‘first’ (second) division, which is good because it means a bit more of a relaxed thing, if that’s your … thing. Again, contact details are in that page, and as far as we know the Sunday teams (for some reason) have a higher turnaround and will be more likely looking for fresh blood.

‘Fantasy 7s’

We don’t know why it is called Fantasy 7s, but if you want to join a team, or just enquire about the origin of the name, then email and ask Chris (should be) about it. The games are played in Luwan Stadium which is near Tian Zi Fang (if you know it), on Zhaojiabang Rd near the inner elevated road (also called Chengdu Rd… roughly where Sinan road stops at it’s South). It’s a 7 a side league and it’s good fun, the only problem with it being that the games are 40 minutes long, which is likely less than the preparation and travel time to get there and back.


If you are not sure of what team to join at first, the best bet is probably to look on the Shanghai Expat sports subforum. Don’t make a new post asking ‘is there any football?’, because you will then be forever assigned the rank of village idiot. As mentioned, there are many posts in there looking for new players for casual games – you can then go along to a casual game and see if you click with any of the people there. The people who play in those games, more often than not, are already involved in some kind of league football and might be able to help you.



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Categories: Play


Foreigner in Shanghai


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