• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 13th November


Welcome to the latest edition of the China Sports Business Weekly. Making headlines this week: Chelsea becomes first English club to partner with Weibo, Borussia Dortmund hosts CSR event in Hubei, CBA fines teams and players over apparel breach, NBA & Harves Entertainment team up for Experience Centers, UFC’s Yan Xiaonan victory continues organisation’s momentum in China, and the ITTF returns.  In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Benjamin Wahl, Head of China for Borussia Dortmund, about the club’s recent CSR initiatives, launching a fan club in Wuhan & meeting the people of the city, and what’s in store for 2021.

Top Industry News 1) Chelsea FC Becomes First Premier League Club to Partner with Weibo The fastest-growing football club on Weibo last season has cemented its relationship with the platform through committing to an official strategic partnership. Chelsea will focus further on new and exclusive original China-specific content, which Chelsea will share with their fans on Weibo on a daily basis. Read more on SportsPro (English) and Sina (Chinese)


2) BVB Hosts “Beyond Football” CSR Event in Hubei, Launches Wuhan Fan Club The Bundesliga club hosted a CSR event named ‘Beyond Football’ with its sponsor Evonik in Hubei to bring football into four local schools. At the event, BVB donated football equipment and organised sessions delivered by BVB coaches. Located in an undeveloped region, schools in Enshi, Hubei have no facilities to teach football. Alongside the CSR event, BVB also launched its first-ever fan club in Wuhan. Read more on NetEase (China) 3) CBA Punishes Teams & Players for Violating Sponsorship Agreement The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has delivered the fines for violating sponsorship terms with Chinese brand Li-Ning. A number of the league’s top players such as Guo Ailun, Zhou Qi and Jeremy Lin were fined, with the total amount of all players and teams reaching $800K+. According to the CBA’s sponsorship agreement with Li-Ning, players who do not wear Li-Ning products accordingly will be financially reprimanded. Read more on SCMP (English) and Tencent (Chinese)

4) NBA & Harves Entertainment Team Up for Experience Centers The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced a string of China partnerships at the recent China International Import Expo (CIIE). A standout announcement was with Harves Entertainment, the real-estate company working together with Manchester United on a number of Experience Centers across the country. With Harves, the NBA announced plans to build six immersive NBA entertainment and experience centers in China that will be equipped with interactive gaming facilities, NBA-themed restaurants and other entertainment choices to enhance the league's connection with Chinese fans. Read more on China.org (English) and Jiemian (Chinese) 5) UFC’s Yan Xiaonan Eyes Zhang Weili Following Vegas Victory Over Claudia Gadelha China’s Yan “Fury” Xiaonan proved she’s a serious contender by beating Brazilian Claudia Gadelha at UFC Vegas 13 by unanimous decision. It’s now 6-0 in the UFC for 31-year-old Xiaonan, and it was by far the biggest win of her career to date. Read more on SCMP (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) Mailman Take: Xiaonan’s victory takes her one step closer to a battle with Zhang Weili. This potential mega-fight between two of China's best highlights the strength of Chinese female athletes on the world stage. 6) ITTF Becomes First Traditional International Sports Event Staged in China Since COVID-19 Outbreak The ITTF Women’s World Cup took place in Weihai, Shandong province, and following this event, the #RESTART series will continue with the men’s ITTF World Cup, also in Weihai. The final event of the year, the ITTF Finals, will start in Zhengzhou, Henan province next week. The #Restart series is the first significant traditional international sports event that China has hosted since the pandemic outbreak. Read more on Xinhua (English) and Huanqiu (Chinese) Mailman Take: The #RESTART series will be the envy of many other international organisations operating in China. And with the highly-anticipated WTT launch event taking place in Macau later this month, table tennis has the perfect opportunity to make a notable impact on fans and provides a great platform for its new sponsors (see next story).


7) Coca-Cola Becomes First-ever WTT Partner The American beverage company will be the Official Beverage Partner of World Table Tennis (WTT) events in China during 2021. Coca-Cola will be given exclusivity across the categories of water, energy drinks and soft drinks at WTT events in China and at WTT’s upcoming event, WTT Macao. Other sponsors which join as partners include Galaxy Entertainment Group as Presenting Partner, and LD Sports as Global Premier Partner. Read more on ITTF (English) and Tencent (Chinese) 8) FC Bayern Take Club Exhibition to Wuhan FC Bayern took their trophy tour to Wuhan to give their fans the opportunity to have photos with the replica cups and changing room. Alongside this, the Wuhan central hospital football team was invited to play a friendly match with Wuhan FCB fans, for which FCB prepared kits and equipment. Finally, more than 200 fans joined FCB’s offline match viewing party for the Klassiker. Read more on Sina (Chinese) In Other News Kuaishou Submits IPO Request in Hong Kong The popular short-form video platform submitted its IPO request in Hong Kong, with financial reports stating the operating revenue of Kuaishou was $5.9B in 2019 and RMB 3.8B in the first half of 2020. Kuaishou has reached 258M daily active users, which has helped attract investment from tech giants like Tencent. The offering is reportedly expected to raise $5B. We spoke with Kuaishou’s Head of Sport Chen Jia last week. Read more on CNBC (English) and Ifeng (Chinese) CIIE Introduces Sporting Equipment and Events Exhibition The China International Import Expo (CIIE), for the first time, introduced a special exhibition of sporting equipment and events for the first time, with 90% of the exhibiting organisations presenting at the Expo for the first time. This highlights the confidence and appetite for the industry in China, particularly ahead of the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics. Read more on People.cn (English) and CCTV (Chinese) Alibaba Claims $75B in Singles Day Record The annual sales carnival broke records yet again, pulling in around $75B. The total also calculates the three-day period prior to 11.11, which was added in to boost post-COVID-19 sales. Compared to the same period last year, this year represents an increase of 26%. Read more on CNN (English) and Tencent (Chinese) China’s Tech Giants Lose $280B in Market Value Shares of the biggest technology companies in China dropped significantly due to rising regulatory concerns. At market close on Wednesday in Hong Kong, shares of Alibaba listed in the city dropped 9.8%, Tencent’s fell 7.39%, and JD.com’s stocks plummeted 9.2%. The reason causing the decrease is that the Chinese regulator, the State Administration for Market Regulation, announced earlier in the week a set of draft rules to curb internet platforms monopolising the industries. Read more on CNBC (English) and Eastmoney (Chinese) Esports News Burberry Partners with Tencent Games’ Honour of Kings The British luxury brand’s partnership with Tencent Games integrates its products into the online mobile game "Honour of Kings". Both parties will use interactive digital content to provide consumers with new ways. Read more on Burberry (English) and Tencent (Chinese)


What we've been upto across Asia this week. #DiwaliWithSpurs Campaign for India To celebrate Diwali, we asked fans to fill the feed with positivity. Fans were asked to post pictures of their celebration with hashtag #DiwaliWithSpurs. We surrounded the campaign with fun content every day to go with the theme of smiling during tough times. National Hero Day in Indonesia Indonesia commemorates its fallen heroes every November 10th. We delivered localised content for PSG, Tottenham Hotspur, and Roma which gained media attention in Indonesia.

From The Top  Benjamin Wahl, Head of China for Borussia Dortmund.  1. Talk through your recent CSR activation in Wuhan and how the event came about? A few months ago our fans in Wuhan reached out to us to launch the official BVB-Hubei fanclub. Over those past months we developed a concept to support this region together with our partners Evonik & PUMA. The overall tour consisted of the visit & support of the schools in Enshi, combined with donations and football clinics with our professional on-the-ground BVB coaches. Afterwards, we founded the 19th Official BVB fanclub in China, competed in a fanclub tournament and welcomed our fans in Wuhan with a live show from Dortmund and our former national goalkeeper, Roman Weidenfeller. 2. How was the experience visiting the city and its people? It was heart touching for everyone in the team to see the happiness of those kids in Enshi and the many smiling faces. An unforgettable day and not the last time for BVB in Enshi. In Wuhan, we had such a warm welcome from our fanclub. The founding celebration with our mascot EMMA, the football clinic, and the welcome live show with Roman Weidenfeller was great fun for everyone. We are more than happy to welcome our Hubei fans to the BVB family. 3. What further projects does BVB plan to do in that region moving forward? Together with Evonik and our common CSR campaign ‘Beyond football’ we are planning a series of CSR events in China. The schools in Enshi were located at 1700m altitude. Some of them had no warm water equipment. We are evaluating now to support these schools with technical equipment from our global BVB partners 4. How has the club adapted on digital across Asia throughout 2020?  Before we dive too deep into the digital world I have to say that all those features are a nice add-on and super valuable, but most important for us, is to deliver the most authentic and passionate football spirit of BVB. Therefore besides all digital activities, we will stick to our Fan-First-Concept in China. Means: Organising fan events on the ground together with our fan clubs all around the country. During COVID-19, of course, we developed some great digital features: The Virtual Stadium Tour, The BVB Podcast, ‘Road to the stadium’ where fans could digitally walk to the stadium and donate to the small shops and stores which suffered from the lack of fans on matchdays, and of course, our digital virtual Asia Tour: BVB was the first club ever who created the concept of a digital fan party during covid – with an initial audience of 3.7M attendees.  We transformed this concept into our virtual Asia Tour: Having events on ground like the black&yellow tour bus in Shanghai, the launch of the Shanghai Metro card, the beer tasting with our fans at Würenbacher, and delivering live shows from Dortmund to our fans online with interactions with players, legends and management. 5. With digital accelerating faster due to COVID-19,  what does the plan to do in this space in 2021?  We will continue to visit our 19 fanclubs all around the country and celebrate the BVB games together. Digitally we are about to establish a BVB live show from Dortmund with our Chinese colleague (Xi Wang) to bring the latest updates, news and entertainment to our huge fanbase in China.


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