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Football economy in China


A couple of weeks ago I was in Beijing. Although growth may have slowed somewhat, and there are some problems in the financial system, not least in terms of local government debt, it remains a vibrant and dynamic economy. Indeed, if you take away the language and the cuisine, Beijing could be a large American city.

We therefore welcome this contributed article by Thibaud Andre.

While football is being among the most popular sports in China, the Chinese national team did not go higher than 70th in the world rankings. Moreover, China's team was out of the World Cup 2014 and, as Goldman Sachs predicts, is not expected to do so for at least 20 years. Football is much loved in China, but not well played. As a result, most of Chinese people are big fans of European soccer, which seems to be more spectacular to many of them. Chinese football supporters bring much money to certain businesses inside the country as well as abroad. A lot of national companies take this opportunity to promote themselves on a global stage. Recently, several Chinese enterprises were among the main sponsors of the World Cup 2014. Moreover, China recently hosted French "trophée des champion", being the first destination of the championship in Asia, with an idea to broaden its international connections and go global.

English football is the most preferred among Chinese supporters

According to recent research, over 78 per cent of football fans in China prefer international rather than domestic football. In particular, English football is the most popular. It was recently announced that Arsenal is the most loved English team among Chinese supporters followed by Manchester United. Spanish, German and French teams including Real Madrid and Inter Milan are also loved by Chinese fans. As a result, these countries, particularly England, attracts a lot of Chinese tourists or students, studying in the UK, who regularly attend football games. As the Brazilian embassy, based in Beijing, reports, over 5,000 Chinese nationals visited Brazil during the World Cup 2014.

Sponsorship as a way to go global

Moreover, the fact that football is apparently a good opportunity for global promotion is clearly recognized by China-based companies. Several stand as the main sponsors of various football teams and events. Yingli, a China-based solar energy company, was among the others sponsors of World Cup 2014.

European football understand the crucial stake of China fans

Another "Go global" action, recently undertaken by China, was to host the French "Trophée des champion", where Paris Saint-Germain and En Avant Guingamp were competing at thwe Beijing Workers' Stadium. China has become the first country in Asia to host the championship. The incentives behind the partnership are to boost exchange between these two countries. Especially, the French side is apparently more interested in attracting Chinese football fans and developing their awareness and interest in French football. Is there a better way to attract Chinese fans than to arrange a true show with the best and most popular in France, Paris Saint Germain and its international star Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

Chinese are more involved in gambling on than playing football

It is not the secret that China is doing far from well in football on global stage regardless the fact that the Chinese are great lovers of the sport: they prefer to watch rather than to play. As a result, a large betting business had emerged in China regardless of the fact that it is illegal. During the World Cup 2014, Chinese fans were actively betting on match results. Some people seemed to be addicted to betting while losing large financial assets; others were betting small amount for fun while not being really interested in football. However, the World Cup brought a huge revenue to the betting market, which normally reaches $140 billion per year.

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