• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 3rd July

Welcome to the latest edition of the China Sports Business Weekly.

This week: the Chinese Super League finally gets green light to start, DDMC Fortis rebrands as Football Marketing Asia, BMG donates 1000 jerseys to schools, BVB extends player card company partnership, Riot Games announce Shanghai APAC HQ, plus the best dragon boat creatives & Top 10 Serie A Football Clubs on Weibo.  

In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Martin Thiess, General Manager China at Borussia Mönchengladbach, about recent CSR projects, community building, working with a Chinese football legend, and the importance of goodwill in the current climate.

Top Industry News

1) Chinese Super League Given July 25 Green Light After months of false starts and setbacks, the Chinese Super League (CSL) is officially set to return on July 25, with games taking place in the cities of Dalian and Suzhou. Following in the footsteps of the Chinese Basketball Association League, the format had been split into two locations, which will include a league + knockout round. Read more on Reuters (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)


2) DDMC Fortis Rebrands as Football Marketing Asia The agency that exclusively markets the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) commercial rights for the 2021-28 period, is rebranding as Football Marketing Asia (FMA). CEO Patrick Murphy stated the rebrand is happening at the beginning of the company’s move into an ‘operational’ phase that will begin with marketing campaigns and the launch of new branding for the AFC competitions. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sohu (Chinese)


3) Borussia Mönchengladbach Donates 1000 Jerseys in CSR Project The Bundesliga side donated 1000 jerseys as part of its China-specific Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project, which includes working with schools & academies in the more rural areas of the country. As part of the overarching goal to support and promote youth football in China, BMG produced its first-ever CSR livestream, where a live donation of 1000 jerseys was made to grassroots football teams, youth football clinics, and other projects all over China in need of equipment and clothing. Read more on Tencent (Chinese) 4) Borussia Dortmund and Daka Cards Extend Partnership BVB and DAKA have been partners for 3 years, producing iconic player and team cards for the Chinese market. Original signed player cards, match-worn jersey cards and lucky draw cards for tickets to a BVB game are a unique concept of DAKA. Read more on Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)

5) Manchester City Sign Regional Partnership with Capstone Games The Chinese mobile game developer’s multi-year deal makes them the club’s ‘Official Casual Mobile Game Partner’ in Asia-Pacific, North America and the UK, and will promote a football manager-style mobile game launching in late 2020, featuring City players, kits and the Etihad Stadium. Read more on Manchester City (English) and Sina (Chinese) 6) World Table Tennis Names Liu Guoliang as New Head The Chinese table tennis chief has been tasked with promoting the sport on a global level, as World Table Tennis (WTT) named the former Olympic champion as its new head. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) set up WTT in August last year to modernise its commercial business activities and help table tennis to compete against top-tier sports, globally. Read more on CGTN (English) and People’s Daily (Chinese) Best of the Rest Kweichow Moutai China's Most Valuable Company The alcoholic drinks maker has become China's most valuable publicly-listed company, overtaking the country's biggest bank, ICBC. Chinese tech giant Alibaba is more valuable, but isn't listed in China. Huawei, another well-known Chinese company, is privately owned. Read more on BBC (English) and Sina (Chinese) India Bans 59 Chinese Apps Among these apps are two of the most well-known, TikTok and WeChat, with the reasoning behind the decision being that they pose a threat to the country’s security. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology accused the apps collectively of breaching the privacy of Indian users and mining their data. Read more on Caixing (English) and Yicai (Chinese) Dragon Boat Special The recent Dragon Boat Festival in China presented a great opportunity for international sports organisations to get creative with their content. We’ve compiled some of the stand-out performances. NHL Paris Saint-Germain Juventus Tottenham Hotspur Drone Racing League LA Lakers Chelsea Borussia Dortmund Manchester United Borussia Mönchengladbach Sevilla FC Roland Garros Esports News Riot Games to Establish APAC Headquarters in Shanghai Global game publisher Riot Games has agreed a strategic partnership with the Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau, with the intention to establish its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Shanghai. Also in Shanghai, Chinese game publisher NetEase began construction on its $710M esports park in the city’s Qingpu district. Read more on Esports Observer (English) and Sohu (Chinese)

From The Top Martin Thiess, General Manager China at Borussia Mönchengladbach 1. What was the inspiration for the BMG CSR project? In line with our undertakings in China, our goal is to conduct at least one big CSR project every year. This year we have donated 1000 jerseys to several schools and organizations all over China. Last year, we conducted eight charity football camps at several schools, flanking our 2019 China Tour in Guangzhou and Shanghai to show China why Borussia is here: to support the development of Chinese football. 2. Why did you choose the schools / organisations you did? First and foremost it was important for us to donate to schools and organisations which are in need of equipment to support the children immediately. But we also wanted to donate to local football projects, which contributes greatly to the local development of football. This is why we also have chosen to donate one batch of jerseys to the Hu Zhijun Football School in Dongguan. 3. How did you come to work with ex-national team professional Hu Zhijun and how important was he as part of this project? Hu Zhijun is an absolute legend of Chinese football. We are very aware of the outstanding work on grassroots football development Hu Zhijun’s football school is conducting and we wanted to honuor him and his contribution to Chinese football. The development of grassroots football as conducted by Hu Zhijun and his team is the right way to strengthen the Chinese football foundation and is completely in line with our philosophy. 5. Goodwill is more important than ever these days. Will we be seeing more projects like this from Borussia, any news to share on this front? Yes, for sure. For 2021, we will also arrange a proper CSR project, which serves both purposes; a positive impact on people in need as well as a contribution to the development of football in China. Football is a sport played throughout all classes of society and has a huge influence on the community. We want to do our bit so that deprived children in China can also be part of the Chinese football dream. 6. Finally, congrats on gaining Champions League qualification. How will you leverage this in China next season? The qualification for CL is a great success for our club and underlines that our philosophy and approaches are right. The main focus of our China operations has always been and will always be to support local football development. We hope to leverage our club’s sportive success to further demonstrate that a clear focus on youth development, combined with the right philosophy, is an important success factor in football. Top 10 This week we look at the most-followed Serie A Football Clubs on Weibo. 

  1. Inter Milan - 4.5M

  2. Juventus - 2.9M

  3. AC Milan - 2.8M

  4. AS Roma - 454K

  5. Napoli - 414K

  6. Cagliari FC - 45K

  7. Fiorentina - 35K

  8. Chievo Verona - 23K

  9. Atalanta - 11K

  10. Torino FC - 10K


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