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China’s big investment in football could change global sport on its axis

football in china, sport economy in china, Chinese sports investment

Ajax have long been synonymous with all that is worthy in developing talent. But now the Dutch institution could be at the forefront of another trend, with Chinese investors thought to be targeting a stake in the club in the hope of unlocking the potential to grow football from the bottom up in the world's most populous country.

长期以来,阿贾克斯一直是在足球人才的培养方面凡事都有价值的同义词。然而现在,这支荷兰足球俱乐部可能处在了另一股潮流的前沿:据信中国投资人对于入股该俱乐部志在必得,这些投资人满怀希望要在世界人口最多的国家释放从下至上发展足球运动的潜力。

With hosting and qualifying for the World Cup finals listed as long-term goals, the authorities plan to substantially increase the number of young people playing football, with the number of special "soccer schools" raised to 20,000 after five years and to 50,000 in a decade.

在把主办和打进世界杯决赛阶段比赛列为长期目标的情况下,当局计划大幅增加参加足球运动的青少年人数,并在5年后把全国专业"足球学校"的数量增加到2万所,10年之内再增至5万所。

According to Gorden Song, who runs a private equity Chinese sports investment fund, the goal is to achieve that aim partly by encouraging investors to sink money into football academies and local clubs across the country.

据管理一家私募中国体育投资基金的戈登·宋称,目标是在一定程度上通过鼓励投资者对全国各地的足球学校和地方俱乐部进行投资来达到这一目的。

"The Chinese government has decided to turn the FA into more of a social organisation," he says, "To develop faster it will focus on participation to try to grow the pyramid and grow football at different levels. In China there are no community clubs traditionally – there have been very few in the past, normally built by retired professional football players. In the last two or three years, we have seen more start."

他说:"中国政府已经决定把足协转变成为一个更偏向于社会组织的机构。为了加快发展,足协将把重点放在参与努力构建金字塔以及发展不同级别的足球上面。在中国没有社区俱乐部的传统——以往这样的俱乐部很少,一般是由退役的职业球员建立的。在过去两到三年里,我们看到有更多俱乐部开始起步了。"

Under the new scheme, the country's football association has been separated from the State General Administration of Sports for the first time, in an attempt to give it more autonomy and the ability to determine its own staffing and resources.

根据新的方案,中国足协已第一次从国家体育总局脱离,以便能获得更多的自主权和能力来决定自身的人员和资源配置。

"You have to develop interest and provide places to play," says Song. "Some of the growth will come from companies investing in youth development and participation. Football is different to other sports, where you can identify talent at an early age – we call it soldier training. In football, you need a pyramid and a wide base." This is one of the reasons why China has been able to succeed in individual Olympic sports such as table tennis and gymnastics but has struggled when it comes to football.

宋说:"你得培养人们的兴趣,并提供可以踢球的场地。发展在一定程度上将取决于企业对青少年培养和参与的投入。足球有别于其他一些可以在孩提时代就发现人才的体育项目,那些项目我们称之为士兵式训练,而对于足球,你需要有金字塔,有广泛的基础。"这就是中国能够在乒乓球球和体操等奥运项目中取得成功,却在足球运动中一直遭遇困难的原因之一。

There is hope changes in society will also help, with parents being encouraged to consider the health of their children as well as academic achievement and the carrot of learning English from European coaches while exercising.

足球人士希望社会态度的改变也能带来帮助。家长们将被鼓励在考虑孩子学习成绩外还要考虑他们的健康,以及考虑在练足球的同时可以跟欧洲教练学英语的许诺。

One fascinating spin-off from this ambitious scheme to build a football infrastructure virtually from scratch across this vast land is the potential effect in Europe. Chinese investors were among those interested in buying Aston Villa last season. Although that approach foundered, Chinese investors have this year acquired the French second division club Sochaux and the Eredivisie side Den Haag.

在这个广袤国度几乎从零开始建立足球基础的宏伟计划的一个迷人副产品是它给欧洲带来的潜在影响。上个赛季有意购买阿斯顿维拉俱乐部的投资者中包括了中国的投资人。尽管这条途径遇到了挫折,但中国投资人今年还是购买了法国足球甲级俱乐部索肖队和荷兰甲级俱乐部海牙队。

Professor Simon Chadwick, the chair in sport business strategy and marketing at Coventry University, believes that other similar investments are inevitable and that the rationale is as much to learn from them commercially and technically as for business reasons. Ajax are believed to be among the clubs on the radar of Chinese investors.

英国考文垂大学体育商业策略与营销教授西蒙·查德威克认为,其他类似投资将不可避免出现,其理由是除出于商业考虑外,还要在商业化运作和技术上向它们学习。据信阿贾克斯属于受到中国投资人密切关注的俱乐部之一。

"The Chinese government has recently taken the decision to build the world's biggest sport economy, which it wants to have reached $850bn in size by 2025," says Chadwick. "At the heart of the country's sporting investment is football, which the state is very keen to promote.

查德威克说:"中国政府最近做出决定要建立世界最大的体育经济,希望到2025年能达到850亿美元的规模。处在全国体育投资中心的是足球,这是国家非常迫切希望推动的项目。"

"Specifically, China would like to host and win football's World Cup, which the country sees as being a way to assert its global status and power. As a result, both the government and corporations in China are investing in football – from the grassroots through to the elite professional level, which includes buying stakes in European football clubs."

他说:"具体来说,中国希望主办足球世界杯比赛并夺取冠军,国家把这看做是证明其全球地位和实力的一种方式。因此,中国的政府和企业都将对足球进行投入——从基层一直到高层次的职业球队,包括购买欧洲足球俱乐部的股份。"

As the game's biggest clubs continue to engage in an arm's race to reach China's burgeoning middle classes, the trend of the country's investors to scour Europe for clubs in which they can invest and from which they can learn is equally fascinating.

在足球世界最大牌的俱乐部继续争先恐后招徕中国迅速成长的中产阶级的同时,中国投资人在欧洲物色可以作为投资和学习对象的足球俱乐部的趋势也同样令人着迷。

For Chadwick, the lesson from other business sectors is that China will get it right eventually. If and when it does, it could tilt the sport on its axis. "Given China's recent record in other industrial sectors, one suspects that ongoing Chinese interest in football could well have a profound effect on the world's favourite sport," he concludes.

对于查德威克来说,从中国其他行业中获得的经验是中国最终将学到真谛。而当中国这么做的时候,它会以自己为轴心影响这项运动。他总结说:"鉴于中国近年在其他行业取得的成绩,人们猜想中国对足球的持续兴趣完全可能对这项全世界最喜爱的运动产生深远影响。"

2016-06-23

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