Ma’s deal dis­ap­points his home­town

Alibaba chair­man passes on lo­cal club, de­fends the choice

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By YAN YIQI in Hangzhou yany­iqi@chi­

In­ter­net ty­coon Ma Yun’s pur­chase of a Guangzhou soc­cer club is spark­ing back­lash from res­i­dents of his home­town Hangzhou.

Ma is chair­man of Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-com­merce com­pany. On Thurs­day, the firm an­nounced it was buy­ing a 50 per­cent stake in Chi­nese Su­per League club Guangzhou Ever­grande.

The deal has made Ma un­pop­u­lar in Hangzhou, where Alibaba is head­quar­tered.

Song Weip­ing, chair­man of Green­town China Hold­ings Ltd — which owns the Hangzhou Green­town, an­other CSL club — told Xin­hua News Agency that Ma chose to buy Guangzhou Ever­grande in­stead of Hangzhou Green­town be­cause he de­spises the poor and wants to curry fa­vor with the rich.

Fans of Hangzhou Green­town ex­pressed their dis­ap­point­ment on Thurs­day. Xie Kanzhe, who heads an am­a­teur soc­cer club in the Zhe­jiang cap­i­tal, said all of his club mem­bers are un­happy.

“We re­ally ex­pected Ma to pur­chase Hangzhou Green­town. With his money, we ex­pected an­other gi­ant Chi­nese club to emerge,” he said.

Xie said they are most dis­ap­pointed in Ma’s de­ci­sion to over­look a ris­ing team and in­vest in a suc­cess­ful club.

“For busi­ness­men, Ever­grande will surely bring in more prof­its then Green­town. But I think soc­cer should not be a tool for busi­ness­men to make money,” he said.

Wu Qi, an­other Green­town fan, said he has al­ready trans­ferred his money out of his ac­count on Yu’ebao, the on­line fi­nan­cial prod­uct from Alibaba, as his way of protest­ing Ma’s de­ci­sion.

“He dou­ble-crossed us. Last month he ap­proached Hangzhou Green­town and now he has pur­chased an­other team. Emo­tion­ally, I can­not ac­cept this,” he said.

Ear­lier in May, Song, the chair­man of Green­town China Hold­ings Ltd, said Ma would pur­chase a 49 per­cent stake in Hangzhou Green­town. Three days af­ter Song’s an­nounce­ment, Ma vis­ited Hangzhou Green­town’s train­ing cen­ter. On May 27, Ma said at a meet­ing that Alibaba had al­ready co­op­er­ated with the Green­town Group in a cou­ple of eco­nomic deals while he was still mulling the pur­chase of Hangzhou Green­town.

In re­sponse to Song’s com­ments, Ma said on Thurs­day he be­lieves that Song is not a jeal­ous per­son.

“His ac­cu­sa­tion is his own way of ex­press­ing his care and at­ten­tion to­ward me,” he said. “I know Zhe­jiang fans might be un­happy.”

Ma also said he chose Guangzhou over Hangzhou be­cause Song knows too much about soc­cer, while he on the other hand is still learn­ing the game. Qui Quanlin in Guangzhou con­trib­uted to this story.

Song Weip­ing, chair­man of Zhe­jiang Green­town Group and owner of Hangzhou Green­town Foot­ball Club

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