Posts tagged ‘Guangzhou Evergrande F.C.’


Football: Keepy uppy | The Economist

ALTHOUGH they excel at gymnastics and table tennis, the sport many Chinese really want to win at is football. And yet, mired in match-fixing scandals and with little infrastructure to encourage schoolchildren, football has struggled. In November, though, Guangzhou Evergrande beat FC Seoul to become the first Chinese team to win the Asian Champions League. Could its success have a broader impact?

The team, previously known as Guangzhou Pharmaceutical, had been relegated to the second division because of match-fixing before it was acquired in 2010 by the Evergrande Real Estate Group. Since then, it has won the Super League, China’s equivalent of England’s Premier League, three times. On December 7th it narrowly failed to clinch the “treble”, beaten in the final of the Chinese FA Cup. A revolutionary slogan (“only socialism can save China”) has been reworked on the internet to celebrate the team’s success: “only real estate can save China”.

The team’s route to the top would be familiar to English fans. Evergrande, headed by Xu Jiayin, a billionaire member of the Communist Party, paid $15m for the club. In 2012, it hired Marcello Lippi, a World Cup-winning Italian coach, for $16m a year. The club also procured three South American stars and many Chinese national-team members. Rowan Simons, chairman of China ClubFootball, which promotes the game, says this is just the start of such big spending.

Evergrande’s model may not boost the sport at lower levels, however. Relatively few young people play organised football because of lack of facilities and encouragement. Parents prefer academic success to wasting time on sport.

The recent visit of Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, brought some assistance. The English Premier League agreed to support a coaching programme that aims to reach more than 1.2m Chinese students by 2016. The initiatives are a good start, says Mr Simons, but a stricter line on match-fixing and more grassroots support will be needed before Chinese football can become world class.

via Football: Keepy uppy | The Economist.

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Big Money Behind Chinese Soccer Strategy – China Real Time Report – WSJ

If money can buy success in the world of sport, then in China, it matters greatly to whom it belongs.

As China stands on the cusp of its first taste of international soccer success, with Guangzhou Evergrande taking on FC Seoul in the final of the Asian Champions League on Saturday night, it’s clear that without huge sums of money, this may never have been possible. And not just any money, but real estate money.

As preparations took place outside Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou’s business district on Saturday morning, the clout and wealth of the local team’s owner, Evergrande Real Estate Group, was plain to see. Rows of trucks bearing the name “Evergrande Music” lined up outside the stadium in preparation for huge post-match bash. With a two-goal advantage after a 2-2 draw in Seoul last month (away goals count for more), Evergrande are the favorites to win Saturday night’s match.

Guangzhou-based Evergrande is owned by Xu Jiayin, who according to the latest Hurun Report rich list has a net worth of $7.7 billion. He also has political clout, as a member of the country’s top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

He bought the disgraced Guangzhou Pharmaceutical club in 2010 for 100 million yuan ($16.4 million), after the team was relegated over a match-fixing scandal dating back to 2006. After that, he signed China’s national team captain Zheng Zhi, as well as three players from South America.

“There will be no chance for a state-owned company to compete against private real estate money,” said sports columnist Yan Qiang.

China’s real estate developers may not necessarily be the biggest or most profitable companies in the country, especially compared to state-owned behemoths. But the industry is a source of some of the more colorful and freewheeling businesspeople — a number of whom are willing to take risks on sports teams for the prestige they bring.

In the 2013 Chinese Super League season, state-backed Shandong Luneng Taishan placed second but lagged far behind Evergrande in points. Beijing Guoan, backed by state-owned conglomerate Citic Group, placed third. Real estate money came into play for Guizhou Renhe which ranked fourth. The team received large sums of money from developer Renhe Commercial Holdings Co. Ltd. in 2010, after the team, which was then based in Shaanxi province, flirted with relegation to the second division.

Other teams in the Super League propped up by real estate interests include Guangzhou R&F, which finished 6th this year and Hangzhou Greentown, which finished 12th.

via Big Money Behind Chinese Soccer Strategy – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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