Sina Weibo welcomes Manchester United
Manchester United finally – finally – have an official Sina Weibo page here after a shocking lack of presence here, filled largely by fan pages. For years, the powers that be at Old Trafford were arrogant enough to think that everyone would simply go to the team’s homepage, and the club has now also launched a Twitter page for the first time (@ManUtd). The site now has more than 100,000 followers (though always take Sina Weibo numbers with a sack of salt), as compared to close to four times that amount on Twitter. Nothing of particular note is up yet on the Weibo site – so far just a few pictures and headlines from their Asian Tour – but at least it’s a step in the right direction in trying to connect with Chinese fans.
The team is not coming to the mainland this summer, but an assorted collection of people wearing Manchester United shirts will be facing Kitchee FC in Hong Kong on July 29.
Messi starts talking, Liang starts explaining
Two ambassadorial appointments of Chinese significance: firstly Lionel Messi, who is already an established endorsement name in China, has signed on to promote Tencent’s WeChat. The Chinese company is expanding internationally and this ad campaign targets potential new users in Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey. WIth a reported 300 million users in China, and another 70 million worldwide, this looks set to grow as the ad is rolled out on TV screens across the 15 markets.
Meanwhile, the organizers behind next week’s Open Championship (or The British Open to my American friends) have signed up Chinese golfer Liang Wenchong. He may not have the star power or potential of Guan Tianlang and the other youngsters, but he’s won 18 pro tournaments and finished 8th at the 2010 PGA Championship. As an official Working for Golf ambassador for the R&A, the game’s governing body outside the US and Mexico, Liang will promote the sport in China as well as “promote understanding of its rules and values”. A multimedia campaign explaining some of the commonly misunderstood aspects of golf will launch in China later this year. I, for one, cannot wait…
Hypocrisy at FIFA? Surely not…
I saw recently that FIFA has provisionally suspended the Cameroonian Football Association – brilliantly known as FECAFOOT – due to government interference. Articles 13 and 17 of the FIFA Statues say that member associations must manage their affairs independently of the government, which, of course, China does not. But FIFA repeatedly continues to have one rule for China and one rule for everyone else.
China’s next big thing….darts?
While jetlagged and channel-hopping in the middle of the night recently, attempting to find coverage of Wimbledon on Inner Mongolian TV, I stumbled across a CCTV-5 broadcast of what appeared to be the 2012 PDC World Darts Championship, featuring none other than Canada’s finest John Part (aka Darth Maple). I could be missing something, but it’s the first time I’ve seen darts on Chinese TV.
Even though it wasn’t exactly a prime time slot, I wonder how much money changed hands between CCTV and the PDC (and which way). Unlike Sky in the UK, for example, which has multiple sport channels to fill at any one time, CCTV just has Channel 5 and more than enough table tennis and badminton coverage to fill the schedule.