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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 1st September

Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: Zhang Zhizhen makes history, FC Barcelona launches digital collection on Bilibili, Tmall launches 3D virtual world, Xiaohongshu recasts sport into street fashion, Authentic announces new partner in China, China approves domestic ChatGPT-like products, Chinese women's ice hockey return to the top division, and Perfect World is set to host CS:GO Asian Championship in Shanghai in November. 🎤 In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Sergi Torrents, Managing Director, LaLiga Greater China, about the LaLiga Hope Cup, the idea behind it, plans for future tournaments, and how it fits in with LaLiga’s overall China strategy.


🗞️ Top Industry News Zhang Makes US Open History with Victory Against Casper Ruud Zhang Zhizhen earned the biggest win of his career when he defeated World No. 5 Casper Ruud in five sets at the US Open. The Chinese star survived a thrilling back-and-forth encounter taking three hours and 18 minutes. Zhang became the first Chinese male to earn a Top 5 win since the beginning of the ATP Rankings in 1973. Read more on ATP (English) and People’s Daily (Chinese) 💡 Mailman’s Take: Excitement surrounding tennis has never been higher in China, as the country’s youngsters continue to excel on the court and break records. Several top-seeded players have been eliminated early at the ongoing US Open, giving the likes of Zhang Zhizhen and Jerry Shang genuine hope to go far in the tournament. If China’s young stars can reach the latter stages, then hope and optimism going into the upcoming China Swing and Rolex Shanghai Masters will be as high as they’ve ever been in the country, putting tennis on top of the sporting hype podium.

FC Barcelona to Launch New Digital Collection on Bilibili The LaLiga champions have unveiled their Players' Digital Collection on Bilibili, one of the leading social media platforms for the younger generation in China, often called the ‘YouTube of China’. Fans have the chance to acquire random collectible illustrations, which provides a wider range of usage, richer display forms, and easier sharing and exchange on the digital platform. Read more on FC Barcelona (English) and Sohu (Chinese)


Tmall Launches 3D Virtual World Ahead of Asian Games With the 19th Asian Games approaching, Chinese tech giants are leveraging the event to create new user experiences and drive engagement. In honour of the upcoming event, Chinese ecommerce giant Tmall has rolled out an interactive 3D world as part of the 30-day countdown to the Games. Read more on DAO (English) and Socialbeta (Chinese) Xiaohongshu Recasts China’s National Sport into Street Fashion Affair The popular Chinese lifestyle social media platform is redefining sports by giving table tennis a make over with a fashionable edge. The campaign was in collaboration with Standard Nerds Club, a creative table tennis venue provider, refashioning more than 100 establishments across 10 Chinese cities into playgrounds for table tennis. A digital competition was also introduced with a series of Ping Pong-themed challenges set to enthuse participants online. Read more on DAO (English) China’s Sports Regulator Says ‘Political Stance’ is Top Priority for Cadres China’s top sports regulator has pledged to place “political stance” as the top priority in selecting cadres amid a sweeping anti-corruption drive in the sector. During a conference on personnel work in the country’s sports system on Tuesday, Gao Zhidan, the Communist Party chief and head of the General Administration of Sport of China, said “political stance” and “correcting deviations” should be prioritised. Read more on SCMP (English) Authentic Announces New Hunter Partner in China Authentic has partnered with Chinese e-commerce and tech provider Baozun for British heritage brand Hunter to design, manufacture and distribute its products in Greater China and East Asia. The partnership deepens the iconic brand's engagement with global audiences, expanding its reach to new consumers. Read more on Yahoo! (English) and Jiemian (Chinese) Salomon Releases First Ever China-exclusive Capsule Collection The sports brand dropped its inaugural China-exclusive limited capsule collection, dubbed “Mountain Summons,” on August 28. The collection draws inspiration from three famed peaks in China, including Siguniang Mountain located in Sichuan province, bringing together the brand’s climbing spirit and the country’s great outdoors. Read more on Jing Daily (English) China Approves Domestic ChatGPT-like Products From Baidu At least three Chinese tech firms including Baidu, Baichuan Intelligent Technology and Zhipu AI are launching artificial intelligence (AI) products after getting government approval as China accelerates AI deployment. Read more on Reuters (English)


🤔 Opinion How Did Chinese Women's Ice Hockey Return to the Top Division? After five successful wins in the Division Group A competition of the women's ice hockey world championship in Shenzhen, Team China has successfully returned to the top division of the world championship after a 14-year hiatus. The news has thrilled many ice hockey fans in China, as the team, once top-four finishers at the world championships in the 1990s, has started their campaign to revive their old-time glory. Read more on Global Times (English) and Guangming Net (Chinese)


🎮 Esports Perfect World to Host CS:GO Asian Championship in Shanghai this November The Chinese game publisher and distributor announced that the company would host the CS:GO Asian Championship (CAC) in Shanghai from Nov. 8-12, featuring a $500k total prize pool. Multiple Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) teams including ENCE, G2 Esports, FaZe Clan, Mouz, and Team Liquid have been confirmed to attend the event. Read more on The Esports Advocate (English) and Bilibili (Chinese) OCA Stages Workshop for Hangzhou 2022 Esports Athletes and Officials The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has held an online workshop to prepare esports athletes and officials for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. The workshop was held in conjunction with the Asian Electronic Sports Federation and covered how to prevent competition manipulation, the election for the OCA Athletes' Committee, social media guidelines, and anti-doping procedures. Read more on Inside The Games (English)


🎤 From The Top Sergi Torrents, Managing Director, LaLiga Greater China 1. What was the idea behind the creation of the Hope Cup and what are the main objectives behind this initiative? Back in 2018, when we started to plan the LaLiga Hope Cup together with the Kunming government and the China Sports Futurity Investment (CSFI), our partners in the project, the objective was to build the best elite youth tournament in China in the u-16 category, with the best LaLiga teams and the best teams in China. The tournament is inspired and follows the standards of LaLiga FC Futures, our u-12 tournament in Spain that has run for over a decade and is a reference worldwide. LaLiga Hope Cup is part of the overall project we agreed on with the Kunming government and CSFI. The other part is the construction of an academy / high-performance center that we expect to finalize at the beginning of 2025. We expect that the 2025 edition of LaLiga Hope Cup can be held in our own academy, closing the circle. 2. How has the Hope Cup contributed to the development of football at the grassroots level in China? Are there any specific programs or initiatives that have been implemented because of the Hope Cup? I believe we are making a good contribution to the development of Chinese football. We are bringing six of our top teams and we give the opportunity to Chinese teams to compete with them. At the same time, the LaLiga Hope Cup is on the calendar of all our teams, and all of them are willing to come and compete in China and also live an enriching experience that goes beyond football. We will complete the circle when our Academy is functioning and connected to our grassroots program and our high-performance center ESC Madrid, a center with a capacity for more than 800 students where we have our own teams, short and long-term programs, international education and first-class facilities. We expect to receive and form talent from China in the next few years through this ecosystem and channels we are building between leagues and countries. 3. The Hope Cup seems to emphasize youth development and nurturing emerging talents. Could you share some success stories or notable experiences of young players who have benefited from their participation in the tournament? As I said, this tournament helps the goals of developing both Chinese and Spanish football offering a unique experience for the kids to compete in China, that's the key. But at the same time contribute to the education of all the kids with an opportunity that goes beyond football. The majority of the kids coming from Spain have never been to China and this is their first exposure to Chinese culture. In these two editions of LaLiga Hope Cup, we had teams like FC Barcelona, Guangzhou Henta, RCD. Espanyol, Valencia, Sevilla Betis, Beijing Guoan, Shanghai SPIG among others. From these teams, some players are already playing professional football. Gavi (Pablo Paez Gavira), a current player of FC Barcelona and Spanish National team is the most famous one, he played with FC. Barcelona in 2019 and won the tournament. There are also some players in Chinese teams that made it professionally, for example, Jia Boyan, the former Shanghai SIPG player, currently playing in Croatia. I’m sure both of them had very good memories of LaLiga Hope Cup. 4. As the head of LaLiga China, how do you see the relationship between the Hope Cup and the broader goals of promoting football culture and fostering sports diplomacy between Spain and China? This year is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain, and the LaLiga Hope Cup is part of the official program of this important celebration. The event has received strong support from the National Sports Administration, Kunming government, and the Spanish Embassy in China. LaLiga is part of the Business Advisory Council created in 2018 by China and Spain governments and we are fully committed to promoting cultural exchanges to facilitate wider relations between the countries. I believe that both governments see the importance of football to promote their own cultures and values to the world. Football is the most important sport in the world and a channel to get a better understanding of other cultures.


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