[UPDATE: It’s not disaster for China just yet, but things most definitely did not go their way this evening. Having tied Saudi Arabia 0-0 in Xian, news came through that Iraq had won 2-0 in Indonesia, so Iraq is now two points behind China for the final qualifying berth in their group with one game to play. That game? Iraq vs China, to be played in Dubai on March 5, is now winner takes all, though China would of course qualify if it was a draw.
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.
Despite taking the first set 6-2, Li Na lost the final of the WTA Championships in Istanbul (the last before the end-of-season showpiece moves to Singapore next year), as world number one Serena Williams won the next two sets 6-3, 6-0. It was Serena’s 11th title of the year, and her 10th win in 11 games against Li Na, but after going into the game as a massive underdog, Li can be happy she at least forced a third set. Crucially, she now moves up to 3rd in the world rankings – a career high – by leapfrogging both Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska.
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:
Well, not exactly, but lucky, lucky Chinese sports fans will now be able to watch the Scottish Premiership (previously known as the SPL) on PPTV, a popular Chinese online TV streaming platform. Details of the deal haven’t been released, but you have to imagine PPTV isn’t paying anything for the rights, and the SPFL isn’t in much of a state to pay to place their league on Chinese screens, so it would likely be a low risk venture on both sides: free content for PPTV and a chance to grow the brand (such as it is) for the SPFL. There must be some money in it though, since it was brokered by MP & Silva, the SPFL’s new international licensing parter. Continue reading China’s next big thing: Scottish football
Today is one of those rare sports days in the Chinese capital, especially given that it’s a Tuesday. For those with nothing better to do (and plenty of money), you can spend the day watching the Tour of Beijing, which finishes its fifth and final stage near the Bird’s Nest today. Then head into the stadium itself to see the Brazilian national soccer team play. Leave at half time and jump into your helicopter to head to the west of town in time to catch some of the game between the LA Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at the Mastercard Arena.
Xi Jinping likes his soccer. So much so, in fact, that the game put him out of action for two weeks last year while he was playing with his staff, sparking rumors of a mysterious disappearance, according to the South China Morning Post. He also likes to talk about the beautiful game: way before his “Chinese Dream” became de rigeur, he had a soccer dream – that China would first qualify for, then host, and finally win, the World Cup.
It’s been another big week for Chinese telecoms firm Huawei in the world of sports. Firstly, as previously mentioned, the company sponsored the ITU World Triathlon Grand Finale in London last weekend (and, as an aside, the ITU is the International Triathlon Union, not the International Telecommunications Union, as originally mentioned in this (now corrected, but still) shocker of a piece by Sir Simon Jenkins), meaning plenty of prominent signage for Huawei all over London’s Hyde Park.
Getting to this a little late, but it’s worth a look… Chris Brass’ broken nose classic still ranks as the best own goal of all time, but this is pretty impressive. At the recent Chinese National Games, teams from Liaoning and Xinjiang combined to produce this moment of magic. It has all the ingredients: the scuffed clearance, the ricochet, the deflection, the whiffed miskick – and, of course, the stunned reactions followed by the embarrassment of realizing that it has been broadcast to the nation on CCTV-5. It doesn’t really matter, but for the record, Xinjiang players are the ones doing the scoring (against themselves). Another fine, fine moment for Chinese soccer.
Dennis Rodman is the gift that keeps on giving. The former NBA player, who now counts North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un among his close friends after trips there in February and September this year, has talked Irish betting firm Paddy Power into backing his proposed basketball tournament, set to take place in Pyongyang in January 2014.
The North Korean national team will face an All-Star selection chosen by Rodman. The mind boggles when you start to think of who might play in this game. Stephon Marbury, for example, would only have a short flight over from Beijing… Continue reading Dennis Rodman’s North Korean circus coming to town in January