In an unprecedented move, the Chinese national soccer team apologised publicly for loosing a match on Thursday, a day after President Xi Jinping talked about his love for the game.
"Sorry", the team said in a microblog post on Thursday evening, immediately after they lost 1:2 against Uzbekistan in a friendly at the Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou.
The apology, a first in its history, has been shared 27,000 times by Friday.
The defeat has been particularly embarrassing after even Hong Kong drew with the Central Asian nation in February.
China, the world's most populous nation and second-largest economy, has so far only won one game this year, against Iraq in March.
President Xi Jinping declared himself a soccer fan when addressing the Mexican Senate in the only speech during his tour of the Americas on Wednesday.
"China's team is trying very hard, but have so far only once made it into the World Cup," he said. "Back then, the head coach leading the Chinese team to this record has also been a coach of the Mexican team, (Bora) Milutinović."
He confessed his love for the sport to a group of foreign journalists in his first interview since he assumed the presidency in March.
"Unpredictability is what makes a sporting match exciting - especially a football match," he said in an official transcript. "During the last World Cup, we had Paul the Octopus. I wonder if next year, there will be another octopus who can predict match results."
China has already lost its chance to participate in the World Cup. Uzbekistan will face Korea and Qatar for two qualifiers this month.
Chinese fans were apprehensive. "It's ok," one person commented. "We're used to it." "In 10 years perhaps," another fan wrote.