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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 14th April

Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: WTA confirms return to China, Road to UFC 2 set for Shanghai, CSL makes long-awaited return, NBA star donates basketball court to rural town, Man Utd pop-up in Guangzhou, seven football clubs barred over wage arrears, Zhou Guanyu confident of F1’s China growth, and all the latest from China’s esports industry.


🗞️ Top Industry News

WTA Announces Return to China The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) will stage events in China this year, ending a boycott that started in late 2021. The WTA has not released its updated schedule but stated the calendar will be “very similar” to 2019, confirming tournaments will resume in China this September. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sohu (Chinese) Road to UFC Season 2 Opening Round Set For Shanghai The opening round of season 2 of the tournament for MMA prospects in Asia will be held May 27-28 at the UFC Shanghai Performance Institute, with the rosters for each tournament bracket also confirmed. Opened in 2019, the state-of-the-art, 93,000 square feet training facility serves as the UFC’s headquarters in Asia, developing its next generation of fighters from mainland China and the Asia-Pacific region. Read more on UFC (English) and Sohu (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: The incredible UFC Performance Institute Shanghai is finally about to put on some live action now that China’s borders are open and Asia’s top MMA prospects can fly in. Following a hugely successful Season 1, Road to UFC returns, and there really is no better stage for it to return to. The UFC has made huge strides in China both in and outside of the Octagon. Road to UFC will help elevate it once again.


CSL Season Finally Set to Start After three Covid-19-affected seasons, corruption and financial issues, Saturday’s start of the Chinese Super League (CSL) marks a return to something approaching normal in the country’s football scene. For the first time since the end of the 2019 season, fans will be able to watch their teams play at home and away. Read more on AP (English) and Toutiao (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: To say this has been ‘long awaited’ is an understatement. Chinese football headlines have been continually dominated by those of corruption and scandals. Now, hopefully, football can do the talking and the sport in China can get back on its much-needed long road to recovery. NBA’s Ben Simmons Donates Basketball Court to Chinese town The Brooklyn Nets guard donated a basketball court to Machang town of Gui'an New Area in southwest China's Guizhou province. At a press conference, Simmons explained his relationship with China: "I first visited China to play basketball when I was 16 and then again as an NBA player. I always enjoy visiting as the people and the fans are always so welcoming, and love basketball." Read more on China Daily (English) and Sohu (Chinese) Manchester United Pop-up in Guangzhou The club’s offline experiential centre “Theatre of Dreams'' hosted another pop-up activation, this time in Guangzhou’s Yue City mall from Mar 18 to Apr 23. Attractions include Old Trafford’s players tunnel, dressing room photo opportunity, Treble trophy display, and a signed shirts display. Fans could also get their hands on official merchandise and have fun playing football games. Read more on GZBN (Chinese)


Seven Clubs Barred From Chinese Football Leagues Over Wage Arrears The Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced that seven clubs have been disqualified from league registration for failing to pay wage arrears. The clubs included Wuhan Yangtze, Guangzhou City, Hebei FC, Shaanxi Chang'an Athletic, Beijing BSU, Zibo Cuju and Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard. The CFA released a notice which required the clubs to resolve their salary arrears within a month. Read more on China Daily (English) and NetEase (Chinese) Senior Chinese Sports Official Removed From Post Du Zhaocai was removed as vice head of the General Administration of Sport of China, the State Council announced. Du has been under probe for suspected serious violations of discipline and law by the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Commission of Supervision. Read more on China Daily (English) and NetEase (Chinese) Zhou Guanyu Confident F1's Popularity is Growing in China Despite Cancelled Race China's first-ever F1 driver will miss out on the chance to make his home Formula 1 debut for a second successive season after the Chinese Grand Prix was cancelled, despite Covid-19 restrictions finally being relaxed in China. Zhou is confident the Shanghai International Circuit will host a race in 2024. Read more on Sky Sports (English) and Tencent (Chinese) Fitness App ‘Keep’ Hosts Offline Sports Event in Beijing In an effort to attract more sports fans, the popular Chinese fitness app launched an offline sports event called “Sports XIU Field'' at Beijing Langyuan Station from April 8 to 9. The event, organised by Keep’s Cool Sports Lab, featured a wide range of sports workshops targeting young sports enthusiasts. Read more on DAO (English) and Beijing News (Chinese) Skier Eileen Gu On Her Superstar Status, Ambassadorships & Secrets To Hyper Efficiency The Olympic gold medalist has transfixed the sports, luxury and fashion worlds. Known as Gu Ailing in China, the superstar has excelled in professional freestyle skiing, the half pipe, slopestyle and big air events. She talked in-depth to Jing Daily on what it’s like being Eileen Gu. Read more on Jing Daily (English)


🤔 Opinion After Years of Crisis, Can China Revive its Lofty Football Goals? President Xi wants China to become a top footballing global force by 2050. But, with a new season about to kick off, the Chinese game is in the doldrums. Read more on Al Jazeera (English)


🎮 Esports Zhang Yimou Confirms League of Legends Drama Released in 2009, the game has garnered millions of players worldwide and has spawned many spinoff games, novels, comics, and the newest of the bunch, the hit animated series Arcane. It has been recently confirmed that there is a drama in the works based on the League of Legends Esports scene. Read more on Gameriv (English) and The Paper (Chinese)

China Esports Blast: March In March, China’s esports industry continued to witness several key sponsorships and partnerships, including a British machine oil brand and a Swiss watchmaker, with esports teams. In addition, the Hangzhou Asian Games also made a remarkable movement by starting to sell League of Legends, Peacekeeper Elite and Honor of Kings co-branded esports merchandise series’. Read more on Esports Insider (English)


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