China’s long-term soccer plan calls for the country to be a global force in the game by 2050, but if China’s latest football project comes off, it would arguably become a major footballing power long before that.
The plan has been laid out by the Chinese government, backed, of course, by President Xi Jinping, but the latest moves have come from one of the country’s biggest companies – Wanda, whose boss just happens to be China’s richest man.
China won’t be playing in Brazil – they have appeared at a World Cup just once and failed to score a goal – but millions will stay up late to watch the games – starting this Friday at 4 am when Croatia kicks off against the host nation in São Paulo. Here are 10 things in this year’s World Cup with a Chinese connection. Continue reading The World Cup with Chinese characteristics
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.
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.
After Time recently named Li Na as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people, my first thought was about the Timing (sorry). Her breakout performance was her French Open win in 2011, so why have they taken this long to put her on the list? Yes, her brand has continued to grow, but her main sponsors jumped on board in summer 2011, immediately after her Grand Slam win.
Anyway, the point of these lists is to generate discussion, so job done there. Interestingly, while many have predicted that Li Na would soon overtake Maria Sharapova as the world’s highest earning sportswoman, Sharapova’s recent deal with Porsche could keep her in the lead for a little while longer.
Here’s this week Sports Talk column:
Influence is a somewhat fluid concept, particularly in connection with Time Magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
To say that Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli – one of just four sports figures on the list – is more influential than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is farcical.
Is he more colorful, more controversial? Yes, on both counts, and those factors sell magazines, so let’s forgive Time their poetic license.
Continue reading Li Na makes list one year too late
Pete Davis has written recently at Goal.com about how well Brazilians are doing in the Chinese Super League (representing 29% of all foreign players). In this week’s Sports Talk column, I look at how well the Chinese are doing in Brazil: