Here are the top China sports business news stories you need to know from this week, and my From the Top interview is with Nico Yennaris, a professional footballer who plays for Beijing Guoan and the China National team, where we discuss his move to China and becoming the first foreign-born footballer to represent China.
FIFA Launches on ByteDance’s Douyin & Toutiao
The international governing body of association football FIFA, has extended its digital outreach in China by launching official accounts on popular digital platforms Douyin and Toutiao. Building on FIFA’s existing presence in the country, FIFA will now be able to offer more content to fans across China through the two platforms and will expand its digital presence in country to four platforms, with FIFA accounts already active on WeChat and Weibo. Read more on FIFA (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)
Mailman Take: A smart time to launch these accounts amid a FIFA Women’s World Cup which China stands a chance of progressing in. FIFA also becomes the first football federation to launch on both Douyin and Toutiao, a clear sign of their ambition in the country.
Wanda Sports Group Files for US IPO
The sports business unit of Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the US stock market. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq Global Market with an expectation to raise up to $500 million, according to its prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Read more on Bloomberg (English) and Ecosports (Chinese)
LaLiga and CFA Bolster Efforts for Youth Football in Madrid
Both parties announced the expansion of the permanent CFA-LaLiga Training Center. The Center will focus on promotion and development of China's national youth team and increase the level of competition. This ambitious project, put in place to promote the development of youth football in the Chinese national team, will see the construction of a third training pitch to house the growing number of collaborations between LaLiga and the CFA. Read more on LaLiga (Chinese)
DDMC Fortis Appoints Turnstile for AFC Sponsorships Turnstile, a sponsorship measurement platform, has been appointed by DDMC Fortis to value its Asian Football Confederation (AFC) assets. Turnstile will value sponsorship packages for all of Asia's major national team and club competitions, including the AFC Asian Cup, AFC Champions League, AFC qualifiers for the 2022 Fifa World Cup, AFC Women’s Asian Cup and AFC Youth Championships. Read more on SportsPro (English) Alipay Announces Digital Ticketing for Euro 2020 Chinese payments platform Alipay will deliver digital ticketing for Euro 2020 as part of its sponsorship deal with UEFA – the first time the organisation will sell tickets digitally outside of Uefa.com worldwide. Read more on Sport Business (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)
Mailman Take: Football fans from China purchased more than 40,000 tickets for the FIFA World Cup 2018, reportedly having more fans in Russia than England, who reached the semi-final. I'd be surprised if ticket sales from China for Euro 2020 reached half that amount, yet the convenience of digital ticketing will make purchasing easier.
In Other News
Nico Yennaris Makes China Debut
London-born Nico Yennaris became the first foreign-born footballer to represent China in their 2-0 victory over the Philippines. Yennaris qualifies for China through his mother and changed his nationality when he joined Chinese Super League leaders Beijing Guoan at the start of the year. Read more on BBC Sport (English) and Sina Sports (Chinese)
Mailman Take: A landmark moment which will undoubtedly lead to a host of media rumours speculating about more football players across the world who have the option to become ‘naturalised’ and play for China. I don’t expect a domino effect, though.
Zhang Weili Given Shenzhen Title Shot
UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Jessica Andrade will reportedly make her first title defense on August 31st at UFC Fight Night Shenzhen, China against Chinese contender Zhang Weili. Read more on Forbes (English) and Sohu Sports (Chinese)
Mailman Take: A first title shot for a Chinese fighter is a huge milestone for the UFC. The fact that they're fighting for the title in Shenzhen, China is nothing short of monumental for the sport. This will be the most impactful moment in China since the UFC opened its first China office in 2010.
From the Top
This week I spoke to Nico Yennaris, a professional footballer who plays for Beijing Guoan and the China National team, where we discuss his move to China and becoming the first foreign-born footballer to represent China.
1. How did it feel to make your debut for the China national team?
I have always had the dream of playing International football for China so when the moment arrived it was extremely special for both me and my family. It was a real honour for me to pull on the Team China jersey and represent my country. The manager and my new teammates were very welcoming and I’m also extremely grateful for the amazing support I have received from the fans!
2. What does the country need to do to ensure it continues to grow the sport of football?
Since joining Beijing Sinobo Guoan FC I have been impressed with the good standard of the Chinese Super League. I believe it’s important that players receive top quality coaching from an early age to set them up to become professional players. As players ourselves, we also have to take responsibility to be professional and continue to strive to improve on a daily basis. The foreign players have their role to play and can help raise the day to day level of the league and you hope the Chinese players can learn from their experiences. It would be great to see more players follow Wu Lei to Europe for new experiences and to learn their football in one of the top leagues in world football.
3. How have your first few months been in China and what are your key goals for this season? The first few months in Beijing have been great. I’ve managed to settle really quickly both on and off the pitch. I’ve been working hard to learn Mandarin and understand Chinese culture and traditions. For me personally, I hope I can perform well for my Club and help them achieve their goals this season. On the international front, I hope I can continue playing for the National Team and support my new teammates in the WC qualification games later in the year. -- Now you can subscribe to our China Sports Business Weekly brief and have it delivered directly to you, wherever you are. Mailman is a global sports digital agency and marketing platform. We help global rights holders, athletes and brands build a successful business across China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Learn more about our story here