Time, money, ambition: China bid for global football.
In 2009, professional Soccer players Lyle Martin (Lyle Martin) in the north American Soccer League (United economic Soccer) below for Vancouver White hat (more than White Caps), when he and his teammates talk about their own future. His teammates introduced him to an agent who offered to play in China.
At the time, the Chinese super league was almost unregistered as a global soccer radar stunt, and no American had a major in the league. But Martin wants to make more money, and CSL is cutting more checks. So he signed with a man in China in 2010.
“My salary is quite good compared to the major league players here,” Martin said. “I could have done more in a single month or two months than I did in the united football league for two or three years,” he said.
Fast forward six years
CSL, which has just started the season, is signing with international stars and the world is attracting attention.
Last month, CSL motorcade jiangsu suning hit the premier league champions Liverpool and signed Brazilian striker alex. When asked about the transfer case, Liverpool boss Mr. Klopp said: “football people talk about Britain’s fiscal power, because of the TV contract and similar things, now maybe China is another competitor.
Brazilian midfielder Alex Teixeira signed a four-year deal with China’s premier league club jiangsu suning on Feb. 13.
In late January, jiangsu suning paid $31 million for the former Chelsea midfielder ramirez. A week later, another Chinese team, guangzhou Evergrande, dropped $46 million to sign jack martinez from the Spanish giants atletico Madrid. The football world’s collective jaws hit when jiangsu suning signed a $55 million deal.
“When I was there, they were spending money – I think – a lot of money,” Martin said. “But when I see it now, it’s like, ‘well, I think they used to spend peanuts. ”
In the winter transfer window this season, CSL cost $65 million more than the British premiere league and the league perennial won four other big European leagues: Spain’s la liga, the German bundesliga, serie a and serie a French ligue 1.
The surge in spending is the latest step in China’s emergence as a global soccer power. With the support of President xi jinping, the country has the political will and naked ambition to promote football on the world stage, regardless of investment.
Last year, Mr Xi announced 50 levels of football reform plan, the revitalization of the “Chinese dream” – hopes to build “the comprehensive well-off society,” xi ‘an China “to the military, economic, and cultural forces”. China’s strong soccer culture can help organize national pride, become a soft power tool for Chinese diplomacy, and transform the country’s economic engine.
According to Forbes, China wants its share of GDP to almost double, behind the us and many other countries. Pricewaterhousecoopers, a consultancy, estimates that the total revenue from ticketing, media rights, sponsorship and sales in China in 2015 was $3.4 billion. By comparison, the U.S. figure is $63.6 billion.
Driven by the government, Chinese investors are opening up their wallets to start growth at home and abroad.
Last October, China Media Capital, a state-owned investment company, bought CSL’s exclusive five-year broadcast rights for about $250 million a year. More than $7 billion, by contrast, radio and television company in order to maintain the current England’s premier league season and paid the price, but with the major league soccer, compared to $75 million a year in the contract that figure is dwarfed by.
Investment in club ownership has also increased. In 2014, Chinese billionaire jack ma’s alibaba group bought a 50% stake in guangzhou Evergrande for $192 million. (now around 40 percent). Last year, has the Chinese billionaire wang jianlin of dalian wanda real estate company to $52 million for a 20% stake in Madrid sports competition, and intend to use this connection to improve Chinese football.
“This investment is not only for young Chinese players in China the chance of a lifetime, let China youth players can pick through Europe’s leading football club, it will also enhance the quality of Chinese football, narrowing the gap between the world.” In the statement.
Despite the recent upsurge in Chinese soccer, China’s professional games are not new.
China’s first professional league was established in 1994, a year after the American professional golf association began in the United States, and in 2004 it transformed into the current 16 teams in the super league.
John Duerden, a British journalist from South Korea who has been writing articles on Asian football since 2002, says soccer has always been a major sport in China.
“There is a misconception that it comes from having nothing,” said durden. It is always a decent Asian league, decent standing and fair attendance. “Chinese football has a long history and loves the game.”
‘since he was a teenager, he has been watching Chinese football and the European leagues,’ said liu qiang, a 35-year-old manager who lives in Beijing.
“Of course, my favorite team is Beijing guoan.” He was referring to the city’s super club. “I mainly look at the premier league, well organized, and a lot of players, but in terms of football culture, it is irreplaceable in my mind because it comes from my hometown.
Mr Liu bought season tickets last year and described the atmosphere as “overwhelming”.
“Playing in China is a challenge, but he calls it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a heartbeat,” said Lyle Martin, who lives with his family in California.
“In the middle of the game,” he said, “the fans would jump up and yell and support what we call the” unmatched home game “. ”
Martin is still the only American who has played in the premier league, and he says he was blown away by supporters.
“When we take a training course, there are 8,000 to 10,000 people watching… For me, it was a shock at first, I’m not used to it, people don’t know me, “he said. “I never thought of myself as a star, I was just a hard-working player who always wanted to take pictures and get signatures – the fans were beyond imagination.
As for the game itself, Martin says his Chinese counterparts are not as powerful or quick as the American players he once faced, calling them “technical geniuses.” Chinese fans are also aware of the level gap between the premier league and the top European leagues they watch.
One of them is liu Yang, a 36-year-old designer and program organizer in Beijing who follows EPL, la liga and CSL. He said the Chinese league was “less exciting” than the five major leagues in Europe.
“The European leagues are more confrontational, more passable and the premier league is weaker in this respect,” he said. However, he says he likes CSL and supports both clubs.
He said: “one is the Beijing guoan, I am from Beijing, so I support our own football club, and, of course, another team is guangzhou Evergrande, because they did well in the past few years have been.
The success of Evergrande in guangzhou was largely due to the fact that it was the first CSL club to really spend a lot of money. It has been moved to a lower-level league in 2010 as a penalty for match-fixing, Duerden said. However, the club found a new investor, Evergrande real estate group, and climbed to the top, winning the first Asian football league title in 2013.
Guangzhou Evergrande players celebrate after winning the Chinese super league in 2013. The club won the last five championships.
ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress through getty images.
“It is clearly part of the political will to see China becoming a world power,” said durden. But what you’re seeing now is the teams that want to win the title, so it’s a domestic game to make more players better, “said durden. ”
Li jianning, a 31-year-old Beijing programme planner, said the signing of talented foreign aid “brings immediate effect to the Chinese club”. “It helps to show more competitive games and therefore attracts more viewers,” he said.
Both liu and liu agree that skilled foreigners are helping to improve local players while creating a fan base and global brand awareness for the Chinese super league. In the United States, major league soccer is implementing a similar strategy with players such as didier drogba, David villa, kaka and Andrea pirlo.
But to build a champion club in China (and eventually a strong national team), it is clear that CSL must focus on improving the Chinese players. In the premier league, each team will only allow four players from non-asian countries to play on the pitch to ensure that domestic players have enough development opportunities.
This is “the key to everything,” durden said.
“The ultimate goal, of course, is to do well at the international level with the national team in the Asian cup and the World Cup, not only to qualify for the World Cup, but to win them,” he said. “But it takes time.”
Beijing guoan supporters passed the police before the 2015 game. The Chinese government wants to turn China into a soccer powerhouse by enforcing soccer programs and investing in the country’s schools.
With the government’s interest, investor enthusiasm and potential fan base of nearly 1.4 billion people across the country, the global success of Chinese soccer seems inevitable. But it’s just a matter of opinion – just ask the fans.
“I think we now have a world-class club: guangzhou evergrande,” jian-ning li said that the club in the world of the 2013 ranked no. 40, which makes it a number of clubs in Europe.
Said liu, evaluate the future of Chinese football is to manage expectations: “the Chinese super league than the champions league is weak, I believe that it has the potential to become Asia’s best, but on a global scale, it is not realistic”.
But liu believes China’s passion for the game will help drive international growth.
“I think it’s because for a long time, Chinese people have Shared the dream of Chinese football, which is to go beyond Asia and go to the world! ”
Beijing news assistant liang ruixue contributed to this.