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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 1st November

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

All the biggest China sports business news stories from the week. In this edition, the CBA introduces a whole host of new measures, UFC Contender Series set for 2020 China debut, AFC expands tournaments, and more. My From the Top interview is with Donatas Motiejūnas, professional basketball player for the Shanghai Sharks.

Top Industry Stories: 1) CBA Introduces New Measures The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has made several changes to the new 2019-20 domestic league. David Wang, the CBA’s chief executive, announced several changes, including: flexibility on tip-off times, extension of the regular season, improvement in the standard of officiating, more full-time professional referees, increase in salaries of part-time officials, harsher measures on fouls, introduction of video replays, and a lottery system to randomly decide player selections for teams that miss the playoffs. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sohu (Chinese)

  • Mailman Take: All these measures were introduced at an event titled ‘CBA 2.0’. The CBA is intent on breathing new life into its league off the back of a disappointing FIBA World Cup for China. New chief David Wang is highly regarded in the industry and appears best placed to guide the CBA through the transition to become a relevant and modern organisation. It will take time, patience is needed.

2) China to Host UFC Contender Series Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced plans to launch the first-ever Asia edition of Dana White’s Contender Series, the MMA series that showcases up-and-coming talent, as well as athletes striving to revive their professional careers. The inaugural season of Dana White’s Contender Series Asia will launch in 2020 and be hosted from the new, state-of-the-art UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai. Read more on UFC English & Ecosports (Chinese)

  • Mailman Take: This will continue the momentum generated from the UFC Shenzhen Fight Night which saw the first ever Chinese champion crowned in August. The Performance Institute is equally impressive in both size and attention to detail. 2020 is set to be another huge year for the UFC in China, with the Contender Series elevating the sport in the country.

3) AFC to Expand Champions League, Women’s Asian Cup The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will expand the Champions League, its leading club competition, and the Women’s Asian Cup. The Champions League will grow from 32 to 40 clubs from the 2021 season. The AFC stated the expansion will take place without any change to the existing slots awarded to its top six member associations. Read more on Inside World Football (English) and Tencent (Chinese)

4) Beijing Beiao Group Signs Beijing 2022 Winter Games Deal The Group has been named as the Official Sports Presentations and Victory Ceremonies sponsor of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. This marks the first time in Olympic history that ‘Sports Presentations and Victory Ceremonies’ has become a sponsorship category. Beijing 2022 now has 17 domestic partners across three tiers. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sohu (Chinese)

5) IOC Announces ANTA as Official Sportswear Uniform Supplier The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced ANTA has become its official sportswear uniform supplier until the end of 2022. The agreement will see ANTA supply the IOC members and staff with sports apparel uniforms for the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and the YOG Dakar 2022. ANTA, which is also the official sports apparel partner of the Beijing 2022 organising committee, is the first Chinese supplier of sportswear uniforms to the IOC. Read more on Olympics (English) and Sina (Chinese)

6) Shankai Sports Travel Takes Flight with Euro 2020

The travel arm of Chinese sports marketing company Shankai Sports has been appointed as the exclusive partner in Greater China of the EURO 2020 Official Hospitality Programme. Shankai Sports Travel will be responsible for the EURO 2020 hospitality tickets and travel products in the region. Read more on Shangkai Sports Travel (Chinese)

7) Louis Vuitton Releases LOL Outfits French fashion house Louis Vuitton (LV) has created two character outfits that will debut at the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds 2019). The competitive series will conclude on Nov. 10 with a grand finals event in Paris, where LV’s headquarters is located. Read more on Esports Observer (English) and Ecosports (Chinese)

8) Tencent Partners with 2021 Summer Universiade Chinese tech giant Tencent has become the Official Internet Partner of the 31st Summer Universiade, which takes place in Chengdu in August 2021. Tencent will provide technology for the event, including cloud computing services, data management and IT security. Tencent’s services would be present in many aspects of the event, including the venues, the athletes’ village, transport, competition systems and payment systems. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sohu (Chinese)


From the Top

This week I spoke to Donatas Motiejūnas, professional basketball player for the Shanghai Sharks. We talked about his move to Shanghai, life in China, how to improve the next generation, and his love for Chinese tea.

1. You recently moved from Shandong to Shanghai, how excited are you about joining the Sharks and what's your ambition for this season?

The last couple of years I spent in Jinan’s team in Shandong province and it was an exciting 2 years, that was my first experience with China. People really accepted me well and I gave my heart and soul for the team. I gave all I had.

After the 2 years, the opportunity came to change team and have a new challenge. Now I’ll try to represent the Shanghai Sharks as best as possible. Our ambitions are the same as every year, make the playoffs. I know they haven’t made the second round in the last few years, but our ambitions have not changed.

2. How have you seen the league progress during your time in China and what has impressed you the most?

Through the past couple of years it’s really hard to determine what has changed in the CBA. Looking at this year’s schedule it’s a bit lighter, last year was very pressed down and hard, I’d say even harder than the NBA, playing most days and flying a lot. Even the NBA has days off, and last year was a really exhausting season for me. This year I’m happy it’s more spread out.

Everyone knows me now and who I am so I get a bit of extra attention each game. I can’t come unprepared, I need to be 100% ready, while each opponent knows if they stop me they have a chance to win the game and I’m ready for that, I enjoy the challenges.

3. China had a disappointing FIBA World Cup. What needs to be done at the grassroots level to improve the standard of the game in the country?

The most important thing after this World Cup is to look at the successful countries over the past decade and how they grow their young talent and how their system works. Try to follow the nations which dominate.

It’s important to understand that it’s not about how much money is put into basketball, it’s not going to change straight away. It doesn’t take 1 day, it takes 16, 17, even 20 years to change a generation. The money they invest right now is for the future generations. When the new generation grows up, that’s when it should really strengthen up. It’s so important they look at the young generations. The future is with them.

4. Have your initial perceptions about what it would be like to live and play in China been met and what's surprised you the most about living here?

This was the craziest part for me. Before I came to Jinan, I had never been to China before. I knew it was going to be new and that I’d have to adjust. I came very open-minded and a lot of things surprised me in a good way, the sizes of the cities, the buildings, I was amazed by how developed it was.

The biggest challenge was probably the food, but I got used to places and my team helped show me some great spots. The first couple of weeks were challenging, but afterwards I started to know the cities and the people.

Of course I didn’t expect how much people would recognise me, I would be on the street and people would stop me in Jinan, and in Shanghai, and I’m amazed that people followed me. I feel good that I can spare some time and show some attention back to them.

5. You've lived in China for a while now, what have you most enjoyed about the culture? What are some of the things that you've been able to experience here?

On my days off I want to travel around and explore Shanghai as I’ve not had much chance to explore yet. I was really lucky in Shandong, I had a Chinese friend who on our days off who would take me to different places. We visited mountains, temples, gardens, natural springs - all the time we had we would try to get as close to Chinese culture as possible. All my team was Chinese so it was important to learn more about the culture so I can build that culture with my teammates.

I love the tea here. I drink Chinese tea four or five times a day and we have some experts in the team who drink tea the traditional way and we want to learn the real tradition. Me and my coach love the tea here, and we’re fanatics now. Tea time is always a good time. Also the food, I love to try different dishes and enjoy going to the places my teammates take me.


In Other News

Each week, we’ll be introducing 3 awards for Mailman’s Red Card 2020: China Digital Football Awards. 1. Industry Award - This award is voted by the community and celebrates a brand that has helped to develop the football industry in China.

2. Individual Award - This award recognises an individual that has significantly developed their football IP and had a major impact on the football industry. Brands can submit an individual by introducing their role and impact.

3. Best Fan Event - Demonstrated an exceptional understanding of how to maximise engagement by translating offline events to their online platforms.

For more information on how to submit, click for English & Chinese. Submissions are now open and the deadline is November 30th. China Signals 5G Roll Out China’s three state telecoms announced 5G mobile phone services. China Mobile. China Unicom and China Telecom stated on their websites and online stores regarding 5G plans, will start from as low as RMB 128 a month. 5G will be available from November 1, allowing Chinese consumers nationwide to use the ultra-fast mobile internet service. Read more on Reuters (English) and Sina (Chinese


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Mailman is a global sports digital agency and consultancy. We help global rights holders, athletes and brands build a successful business across China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Learn more about our story here.

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