One step closer to World Cup final tournament
Companies are cautiously optimistic over sponsorship
Published: Jun 16, 2021 07:08 PM
Students play football at a primary school in Huzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province on June 8. Photo: cnsphoto

Students play football at a primary school in Huzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province on June 8. Photo: cnsphoto

China secured a spot in the final round of FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers after beating Syria on Tuesday, which analysts said will give a boost to the country's rapidly developing football industry, although businesses involved in football are taking a wait-and-see approach.

China advanced to 12-team final round of FIFA World Cup Asian qualifying tournament after beating Syria 3-1 on Tuesday. This accomplishment so far marks another attempt by China's national football team to enter World Cup qualification after their maiden appearance in 2002.

Zhang Yi, CEO of consulting agency iiMedia Research, told Global Times on Wednesday that better-than-expected performance of the Chinese team will generate confidence and encouragement across the domestic sports industry, and businesses must prepare in advance for the industry's development in short- and long-term.

"Most Chinese people have pent-up interest in sports following COVID-19, which, along with the authorities' call for national fitness, will contribute to the booming of the sports facility construction and sportswear manufacturing industry," he said.

Immediately after China beat Syria, Chinese dairy giant Mengniu Dairy - cooperation partner of China's national football team - expressed congratulations to the Chinese football team for their accomplishment.

Many other Chinese companies that are engaged in football industry, including Qingdao Gon Science and Technology Co Ltd, SAIC Motor Corp Ltd and Shenzhen Absen Optoelectronic Co are expected to benefit.

A representative of Qingdao Gon Science and Technology Co Ltd, which is involved in turf laying for sports grounds, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the potential benefits of the breakthrough are not apparent in the short term.

"China has been promoting football to the public for several years, which will give a boost to the country's sports infrastructure construction in the long term," the person said.

Despite the impact of the COVID-19, the company still successfully expanded its sports turf business to South China last year by contracting a football base in Guigang, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the company's 2020 financial report.

In terms of football-related business, SAIC Motor generates brand influence through a variety of grand sports events and activities, most notably by sponsoring the Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium and deepening corporation with Chinese Football Association Super League.

Zhang Qing, CEO of Key Solution Sports Co, a firm that consults on the sports industry in China, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the positive impact of the Chinese national football team on domestic football industry will be released in a larger scale if it advances to the World Cup, and would spark footfall craze across the country.

According to the Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL) 2020 Annual Review of Commercial Performance jointly released by Deloitte and CSL in April, the proportion of fans holding optimistic attitude for the outlook of China's football gradually increases from 2018-20, at 66.8 percent, 73.3 percent and 74.8 percent, respectively. In addition, CSL fans think that developing a youth-focused football education system is critical to the future of Chinese football.

In May, the General Administration of Sport released a document to guide the development of the country's football industry. Over the next five years, China plans to build between 16 and 18 so-called football cities, which contain at least two professional clubs and one national-level youth training center, supported by local training centers. Half of the students in the cities should be engaged in the sport.

With the development of the football cities, the document points out that football will play a key role in China's objective of becoming a leading sporting nation by 2035.

Official data showed that 26,957 football pitches were built nationwide during China's 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), up by four times compared to the 12th Five-year Plan period. According to domestic consulting platform, the number of football fields in China may increase to over 267,6000 by the end of 2021.