May was a busy month.
Changan Ford has announced a deal worth as much as 390 million yuan (US $63 million) over four years to become an official senior partner of the Chinese Super League, as well as the league’s promotion and development partner and its official vehicle supplier.
First it was David Beckham, now it’s the entire English Premier League. After Becks made three visits to China this year
to make money as a special ambassador for the Chinese Super League, a deal has been signed between the English Premier League and the Chinese Super League (CSL), to coincide with UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s current trip to China.
There have been a couple of fantastic, long-form articles written in recent days about sport in this part of the world. The first comes from Brook Larmer, author of the 2005 book Operation Yao Ming which details the rise of China’s most famous sporting son. Writing in the New York Times, Larmer turns his attention to golf, describing a fascinating picture of the wealthy, driven parents of kids as young as eight essentially creating their own mini versions of the state-backed sports schools that have been so successful in churning out Olympians. Here’s an extract:
The team behind the excellent Wild East Football blog on Chinese soccer do such a comprehensive job that, Beckham aside, I don’t often get around to focusing on what is still China’s most popular sport. But the farce that is China’s national team appears to have hit a new nadir. You might assume at this point that the only way is up, but with 114 teams currently ranked below China, there’s still plenty of room to underperform their own abysmal standards. Here is today’s Sports Talk column:
They say it’s always darkest before the dawn, but Chinese soccer appears to be in a permanent blackout. Lurching out of the shadows of match-fixing and corruption, the national team stumbles from one defeat to the next.
Tucked away at the end of David Beckham’s second of his three visits to China this year – and conspicuously absent from his stated itinerary, which included visits to Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou, a photo session with some sick kids, a CSL game and a prime-time TV appearance on CCTV with wife Victoria – was this:
This is exactly what the organizers would have wanted to avoid. Beckham’s first trip to China in March sparked the usual scenes of craziness seen whenever a global celebrity appears in Asia, but everything during Trip 1 seemed to go off without a hitch.
Trip 2 has seen significantly lower media interest so far, but a visit to Tongji University in Shanghai on Thursday saw seven people end up in hospital after students waiting for Beckham to appear broke through the door of the university gymnasium and rushed past a wall of security guards and police.
Diego Armando Maradona, the scourge of English soccer fans and the Italian taxman, has just achieved perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments of his storied career: winning a case in a Chinese court. Continue reading Maradona wins China court battle – but will he get paid?
It struck me recently that the biggest obstacles 14-year-old Chinese golf sensation Guan Tianlang still has to face are nothing to do with sport: girls and money. Either or both could send him off the rails, or make him lose interest in golf altogether.
There are plenty of sports figures who have succumbed to both the ladies and the greenback. Soccer has a few examples, not least Sven-Goran Eriksson, the former England manager, who
is now set to [UPDATE: has now] become coach of Guangzhou R&F in the Chinese Super League.