A large contingent of NHL executives made the trip out to China this week to announce the league’s first initiatives in the country: preseason games between the LA Kings and the Vancouver Canucks in Shanghai (Sept 21) and Beijing (Sept 23), kicking off an eight-year slate of games, which could be upgraded to regular season match-ups as early as 2018. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that might help the NHL in China, as well as the obstacles that lie ahead.
Why hockey will make it in China
1) The timing is right. With less than five years to go to the 2022 Olympics, the government is making a serious push to develop winter sports, and it’s no accident that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been featured in very lengthy segments on the national nightly news touring Olympic venues on more than one occasion this year. As I told the Globe and Mail after the announcement was made, there are actually a lot of indications that the government is moving away from soccer at the moment, and making winter sports its No. 1 priority within the sports industry.
Chinese President Xi Jinping can do many things, but bringing a World Cup to China won’t be one of them.
We’ve covered Xi’s love of soccer – manufactured or otherwise – several times here on China Sports Insider, but the subject is back in the news again after his recent comments on promoting the game in China. First thoughts are the moves being made do look like sensible, long-term overhauls, rather than the short-term, quick fixes that government officials have previously initiated solely to gain attention and/or promotion (see Beckham, David).
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.
Despite effectively beingblocked from doing anything of consequence in the US, Chinese telecoms group Huawei has been continuing its expansion plans in Europe and elsewhere, thanks in part to an increasingly successful soft power campaign that has seen the firm partner up with a variety of sports properties. In the last year alone, Huawei signed deals with: Continue reading PSG becomes Huawei’s jewel in the crown→
Manny Pacquiao takes on Brandon Rios in Macau at around lunchtime on Sunday China time (to ensure a prime-time Saturday evening audience in the US). There was lots of talk from the Manny camp about how this one is for the Philippines given the recent typhoon, but that will all be forgotten when the bell goes. There was also a predictably entertaining build-up with trainers from each side getting into it in the gym – in other words, typical pre-bout stuff.
Sir Alex Ferguson released his second autobiography this week and the press were eager to find out what he really thought of Beckham, Keane, Wenger, Rooney etc at the launch event in London. Press conferences like this tend to have a fairly standard format, where either a moderator invites journalists by name to ask questions, or the TV reporters kick things off and it follows from there.
But they were all taken by surprise when Ferguson walked in nearly ten minutes early and as things were still settling down, a Chinese journo asked for Ferguson’s views about Chinese football and also why he had allegedly been rude to a female reporter in the past (details of this were not clear). Fergie laughed off the second part, before answering: