• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 5th November


Hello Industry Friends, here are the very latest news and insights from the past week in China.


📰 Headlines: China’s men’s ice hockey team to play at Beijing 2022, European Chamber & China’s sport administration align, sport benefits from tutoring purge, WTT extends with Li-Ning, BVB’s dream partnership, Peng Shuai is censored, Hebei’s mounting bills, goodnight for Fortnite, Yahoo to bow out of China.


🗣️ In this week’s From The Top, Robin Trebbe, Vice-Chair of the European Chamber Sports Forum, talks about the idea behind the European Chamber of Commerce’s partnership with the General Administration of Sport of China and subsequent sports forum, the most important areas of growth both sides can work on, and China's latest fitness policy.

🗞️ Top Industry News China’s Men Ice Hockey Team Set for Beijing 2022 Despite rumours of the Chinese men's ice hockey team not competing in Beijing next February, the International Ice Hockey Federation has guaranteed China a spot due to its status as the host nation. Read more on Reuters (English) and The Paper (Chinese)

💡 Mailman Take: As long as China can avoid embarrassing score lines on the ice against Canada, the US and Germany, then this decision will be seen as a smart one in allowing the hosts to compete. A few maulings on the other hand could spark a backlash.


European Chamber Signs Cooperation Agreement with GAS The five-year agreement with the General Administration of Sport of China (GAS) means both sides will cooperate on the development of sporting activities, and the promotion of sports-related industries and events, as well as the creation of a Sports Forum. Read more on China Daily (English) and Sina (Chinese)


Sports Benefit from Tutoring Purge 33K arts and sports outlets have been launched since the government published its “Double Reduction” document in late July, which banned academic tutoring during weekends and holidays and ordered schools to reduce both the amount and time needed for assignments. Read more Bloomberg (English) 💡 Mailman Take: It’s all well and good providing more time for sports & fitness, but it’s now on the parents to ensure they set the right examples through exercising themselves and encouraging inclusion in activities away from the classroom. A big culture shift.


WTT Extends Deal with Li-Ning The Chinese sportswear brand will serve as the exclusive apparel partner of World Table Tennis (WTT) and provide apparel for referees, umpires, ball kids, ITTF and WTT staff and officials at top international events. The new deal will run until 2022 and will see Li-Ning work with WTT to promote top commercial table tennis events in China. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and PP Sports (Chinese)


BVB Partners with Dreame Technology The smart home company has become the official partner of the Bundesliga side, which will promote the Chinese brand with in-stadium LED advertising, fan and VIP hospitality and match-day experiences. Read more on PR Newswire (English) and China Daily (Chinese)

Tennis Star Peng Shuai Censored for Accusation of Communist Party Leader The #MeToo allegation against a former state leader has been censored in China, wiping out any mention of the scandal that has taken over the Chinese internet. The 35-year-old former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion accused retired Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. Read more on CNN (English)


Bleak Future for Hebei FC The future of the Chinese Super League club looks bleak as it struggles to maintain its running costs. “Hebei FC training base cannot pay electricity bills on time,” a club statement said. “In order to reduce operation costs, the club has decided to let the players of U-17, U-16, U-13 and U-12 teams take holidays from November 3rd.” Read more on AP (English) and Sina (Chinese)


UFC Star Zhang Weili Ready for Rose Showdown The Chinese star is looking to claim back the UFC title belt and showcase 'brand-new self' in a rematch with Rose Namajunas at Madison Square Garden in New York this weekend. Read more on China Daily (English) and Beijing Youth Daily (Chinese) CSM to Distribute Chinese Volleyball international Rights The China Sports Media (CSM) agency has agreed to a three-season deal to distribute the international media rights for the Chinese Volleyball Super League, from 2021-22 to 2023-24. The deal covers rights for the women’s and men’s leagues. Read more on SportBusiness (English)


G20 Leaders Back Beijing 2022

The G20 organisation of world leaders stated the upcoming WiInter Olympics “serves as a symbol of humanity’s resilience”. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Reference News (Chinese)

🎮 Esports Goodnite for Fortnite in China The popular battle royale game, developed by Epic Games, will shut down its local Chinese version on November 15, according to an update on its website. Users were prevented from registering new accounts starting November 1. Read more on CNBC (English) and China Youth Daily (Chinese)

🤔 Opinion


How Zhang Weili is inspiring a new generation of female Chinese fighters

Student Chelsea Chenxi Zhu is one of many Chinese women inspired by the UFC star’s rise to the top of the sport: ‘There’s a social stereotype in China and in my heart I want to challenge that. I want to be a role model like Weili,’ says Zhu. Read more on SCMP (English)

🗞️ Other News


Kuaishou CEO Steps Down

Co-founder Su Hua stepped down as chief executive, and was succeeded by the company's other founder Cheng Yixiao. The change is the latest among China's most well-known tech companies where founders have relinquished their jobs overseeing daily operations. Read more on Reuters (English) and The Beijing News (Chinese)


Yahoo Set for China Exit

Following in the footsteps of LinkedIn and exiting China, Yahoo stated: “In recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, Yahoo’s suite of services will no longer be accessible from Mainland China as of November 1.” Read more on Jing Daily (English) and Guancha Syndicate (Chinese)

🎫 Events


All That Matters

With leadership from Meta, Roblox, YouTube, Visa, Mastercard, Unilever, Sony Music, Believe, Twitter, Amazon and many more, All That Matters is back with three tracks LIVE in Singapore and online around the world. This year includes one track per day: SPORTS MATTERS on Monday November 22; MUSIC MATTERS on Tuesday November 23; MARKETING MATTERS on Wednesday November 24. All That Matters is a hybrid event taking place both online & offline. Read more on All That Matters (English)


📢 From The Top 🗣 Robin Trebbe, Vice-Chair of the European Chamber Sports Forum


1. How did the six founding companies come up with the idea behind this initiative and forum?


Founded in November 2020, the idea for forming a Sports Forum was originally discussed during a football-related event hosted by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. Several of the founding members of the forum were speakers or participants at that event, which provided a platform for us to connect and discuss the possibility of a longer-term initiative that connected sports-related companies at the European Chamber.


The six founding members of the Sports Forum are among the top European sports companies. The overarching aim of the initiative is to bring together the European Chamber, European sports companies, government players and local and national Chinese communities, to work together on the integration of sports and education in China.

2. How will the Sports Forum support the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China regarding this latest agreement?


As the Vice-Chair of the Sports Forum, I am proud to support the five-year agreement between the European Chamber and the General Administration of Sport in China (GAS) that was signed earlier this month. The agreement commits both sides to the development and promotion of sporting activities and sports-related industries, including the advancement of the Olympic movement in China. This agreement demonstrates the core values of the European Chamber to ensure open and fair competition across the EU-China sporting and business worlds through working together with China.

3. What do you initially see as the most important areas of growth both sides can mutually work on?


The GAS’s initiatives to better integrate sports and education and further develop youth sports in China means that the country’s demand for qualified coaches across all sports will increase greatly over the next five years. As many European countries’ sports teams are some of the best in the world, and many European companies are leaders in sports technology, we see a real opportunity for further people-to-people exchanges -through education, sporting tournaments and coaching - to promote participation in sports among young people in China.


European companies can make positive contributions to sports in China through the provision of education and services in sports-focused nutrition, awareness of injury prevention and rehabilitation, and by providing access to the best sporting equipment. The Sports Forum hopes to encourage more young people to embrace healthier, active lifestyles while understanding the importance of respecting fair competition and embracing diversity.

4. China's latest fitness policy opens up new opportunities for western brands and organisations. What are you looking to achieve in this space and how are you supporting China's fitness push?

China plans to increase the number of people participating in regular physical activity with its latest fitness-related policies, which opens up huge scope for development of the sports sector. Through the Sports Forum and its stakeholders, we aim to facilitate sports and educational exchanges among different social and economic entities, ranging from schools, universities, corporates and sports venues, government officials and athletes.


The forum plans to host a series of events and work closely with local governments to implement long-term sporting activities to benefit the public and society as a whole. Sport goes hand in hand with traditional forms of education and has always played an important role in Chinese society.

5. What advice would you give to brands that are currently not operating in China but are looking to enter?

The China market is constantly evolving at an incredible speed so there is huge potential for companies that can bring innovation. However, it is important not to underestimate the complexity and differences that exist in the Chinese market compared to the rest of the world. Success in China is achieved not through a sprint, but a marathon. While it is still not too late to enter the China market, in order to find long-term success companies need to develop a deep understanding of China’s increasingly demanding consumers to ensure that they bring the right product. This will require the development of localised marketing channels, and maybe even R&D, which requires significant investment and manpower.

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Headquartered in Shanghai, China, Mailman is a global sports digital consultancy and agency. We help the world’s leading sports organisations serve their audiences and build their businesses. With over 200 experts across China, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the US, we specialise in digital strategy, transformation, social media, content production and eCommerce. Mailman is part of 160over90, an Endeavor company. Learn more about our story here.

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