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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 8th July

Hello Industry Friends, here are the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: Li Haotong wins BMW International Open, Youku and Douyin land EAFF rights, Manchester United reach Fansmall licensing agreement, Wanda ends Atlético Madrid stadium naming deal, Alibaba Sports rebrands as Orange Lion Sports, World University Games Chengdu gets 2023 date, and will Li-Ning replicate Anta’s cash cow FILA with Clarks? 🗣 In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Li Haotong, Professional Chinese Golfer, about his first trophy in four years, almost quitting the sport, receiving key advice, and the future for young golfers in China.


🗞️ Top Industry News China’s Li Haotong Wins BMW International Open Li Haotong ended his four-and-a-half-year wait for his third win on the DP World Tour after a close final day at the BMW International Open in Munich. This victory comes just 10 months after Li was considering retiring from the sport. Read more on CNN (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)


Youku and Douyin Land EAFF E-1 Football Championships Rights Chinese streaming platform Youku and Bytedance-owned short video app Douyin have acquired digital rights for this month’s East Asian Football Federation E-1 Football Championships. The rights cover the men’s championship featuring China, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong, whilst the women’s championship features China, South Korea, Japan, and Chinese Taipei. Read more on SportBusiness (English) 💡 Mailman Take: After winning new media rights to the upcoming FIFA World Cup, Douyin is continuing its charge on the live sports broadcast industry. The platform appears confident it can grow its userbase through purchasing these rights following a period of slow growth across football accounts. CSL Reverts Back to Home-and-Away Games for August Resumption The Chinese Super League (CSL) will resume home-and-away games when the second half of the 2022 season starts on August 5. The 10 opening rounds of the 2022 season were played in three biosecure hubs in Meizhou, Dalian, and Haikou in an effort to limit cross-country travel as the government pursues a zero-Covid strategy. Read more on SCMP (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) Manchester United and Fansmall Reach Licensing Deal The trading card licensing deal, the first of its kind for the club in China, will see a variety of cards issued featuring both first-team players as well as club legends. Cards are inspired by culture and fashion and presented in the local language, showcasing the club’s continuous effort to meet Chinese fans’ preferences with localised offerings. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)


Atlético Madrid Eye New Stadium Deal Following Wanda’s Exit The Spanish LaLiga football team is close to a new stadium naming rights deal to replace Chinese sponsor Wanda, whose contract finished at the end of last season. Más Atlético reported that the Civitas Pacensis deal would be worth more than the €10m ($10.4) per year that Wanda paid in its five-season deal from 2017-18 to 2021-22. Read more SportBusiness (English) and Sports Money (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Wanda has been spending its marketing dollars outside of sports and much closer to home in recent years. The period of big Chinese conglomerates investing heavily in European football is long gone. Only Fosun International, owners of Wolves, and Suning, owners of Inter Milan, remain committed to their investments. For now. Alibaba Sports Rebrands as Orange Lion Sports Alibaba Sports, also known as Ali Sports, was established in 2015 by Chinese internet giant Alibaba. Last year, chief executive Mu Yang announced that it was turning away from work on "sports copyright" to focus on digital services related to health and fitness, including its fitness app Ledongli and partnerships with gyms and mass participation events. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and 21st Century Business (Chinese) World University Games Chengdu Gets 2023 Date The International University Sports Federation (FISU) Chengdu 2021 World University Games have been rescheduled for July 28 to August 8 next year. The event was initially supposed to be held from August 16 to 27 last year in the Chinese city. Read more on Inside The Games (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)


🎮 Esports LPL Cares Cooperates with Shanghai University of Sports As part of the cooperation between the esports league’s charity arm ‘LPL Cares’ and the Shanghai University of Sports (SUS) - better health protection for LPL athletes through professional sports science guidance is at the core. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)


🤔 Opinion Will China’s sports brand Li-Ning replicate Anta’s cash cow FILA with Clarks? The founder of the Chinese sportswear label Li-Ning has finally taken control of British household name shoemaker Clarks after acquiring a 51% stake for $125.53M. The move has been compared by many to Anta’s acquisition of FILA, which has resulted in Anta’s strong catch-up within the domestic market. Capitalising on Clarks, therefore, is believed to be a step by Li-Ning to regain the market share at home and to pull off its global ambition too. Read more on DAO (English)


🎙️ From The Top 🗣 Li Haotong, Professional Chinese Golfer ​​1. Your first trophy in four years. How do you sum up your emotions, especially after almost quitting the sport? Words are hard to describe this feeling. It was really tough after the season I had last year. At one point, my tour card at the DP World Tour was at stake. There were a lot of self-doubt and sleepless nights. From that low to holding a trophy on the 18th green, it’s a dream come true 2. What was it that made you decide to stay in the sport, were there any particular moments or pieces of advice you received which stand out? For almost two years I was playing on my own and wasn’t able to return to China due to pandemic. When I eventually did in 2021 for the national game, my team, friends, and family demonstrated unconditional support for me, especially advice from Chinese legend, Liang Wenchong. I spent a lot of time with him during the national game when he really helped me mentally to gain confidence and trust for myself again. I could not let them or myself down. I guess my passion and love for this sport still trumps everything else. 3. What were your personal expectations going into the tournament, did you believe you could achieve what you did? Certainly, I wanted to win. This is what I have been working for throughout my professional career. But my mentality coming into this tournament was to simply play golf one stroke after another, calm and focused, and to believe that hard work always pays off.


4. How do you assess the next generations of golfers from China and what is the current development and education structure like? I met a few young players last time around in China. They are always full of passion and already demonstrated matureness on the course. That is partly thanks to the fast-growing athlete development structure in China which provided a lot of options for juniors who are interested in playing. But due to COVID-19, the junior golfers really lacked international tournaments for them to put their skills to the test so I very much hope that they can seize every opportunity to exercise themselves in every match. 5. What advice do you give to young aspiring golfers from China? Your love and passion for this sport are what push you forward and work hard for it. Your time will come if you keep your head down and work on yourself. Most importantly, don’t easily quit! 6. Looking ahead, which events stand out for you the most and where will we see you playing? The Open. I am grateful for earning a spot to play. It’s the tournament everyone looks forwards to. I personally had a lot of memories there as well. All the top golfers from the world will be there and I cannot wait to compete alongside them.


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