Real Madrid and Barcelona now appear to be closer than ever before to playing regular La Liga games in China – but just how soon could that become a reality, what obstacles still lie in the way and what sort of impact would that have on global sport?
Javier Tebas may not be a household name in the wider football world, but the president of La Liga has certainly been making waves in the industry in recent days, particularly with reference to expanding the global appeal of his league.
Teams considered to be the best in the world by the Laureus Academy over the past decade have included FC Barcelona, the European Ryder Cup team and China’s Olympic squad.
But you would be hard pushed to find a more dominant team in world sport right now than the women’s doubles partnership of China’s Peng Shuai and Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei. In winning the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last weekend, the pair moved to 11-0 in finals. I’ve searched high and low to find some comparable dominance – in tennis and elsewhere – and I’m still looking.
This Bloomberg article from yesterday highlighted Tencent’s huge stock market gain – the most in half a year – after a 35% increase in revenue from desktop games and WeChat messaging, while noting that Lionel Messi was hired to promoted WeChat earlier this year. What it failed to mention is that Messi’s Barcelona teammate Neymar has just agreed to join forces off the pitch as well as on it, by becoming another international face of WeChat, known as Weixin (way-SHEEN) in China.
A little over a month ago, 17-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen was in pieces. The reigning Olympic champion in both the 200 and 400 IM had failed to win a medal in either race at the World Championships in Barcelona, and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu had reclaimed her position as the medley queen.
But things are looking up for Ye. She won both events in Shenyang at the Chinese National Games, but more importantly her times were competitive:
Hong Kong has been drawing lots of negative attention this week – specifically the semi-flooded state of the Hong Kong Stadium pitch, on which the Barclays Asia Trophy is being played. It consists of 3 EPL teams and a local side sliding through puddles under the guise of vaguely competitive soccer.
Given the recent doping scandals in the world of sport and the furore that surrounded Ye Shiwen at the London Olympics, that’s the question many international reporters will undoubtedly be asking at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, which kick off on Friday July 19 (though the swimming events don’t start until Sunday July 28).
Since I submitted this week Sports Talk column yesterday evening, I’ve seen a fair amount of talk on the same issue of money ruining sports: the Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson arguing that Bayern’s UEFA Champions League win kills the dreams of many teams, and Tom Byer lamenting Bayern buying up Dortmund’s players, while Barcelona – another club that supposedly prides itself on its youth development – spends countless millions on Neymar, recently named the world’s Most Marketable athlete.