Na­tion’s love af­fair with soc­cer sees in­vestors score

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By LIU WEIFENG

When a man has beer and soc­cer game to watch, it’s like when Coke meets with Men­tos mints, full of pas­sion and en­ergy.

By count­ing the num­ber of beer cans scat­tered on the tea ta­ble in our liv­ing room in the morn­ings, I know roughly how latemy hus­band has stayed up to watch the on­go­ing 2016 UEFA Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship.

A news­pa­per page edi­tor, he has been ro­tated onto the night shift this month. For a man back home from the of­fice at around 1 am, a quick shower and sleep won’t do. Catch­ing a soc­cer game on TV with beer and snacks like spicy peanuts, on the other hand, is the best way he finds to re­lax dur­ing the mid­sum­mer nights.

Luck­ily for him, he can get a good sleep to recharge his bat­ter­ies dur­ing the day and be ready for work at night. Not ev­ery­one, though, can do that. Most have to put in their 9am6pm shifts.

An in­ter­est­ing study 10 years ago by the Lon­don Busi­ness School— still be­ing widely quoted these days — found a link be­tween mega sport­ing events and in­vestor sen­ti­ment and stocks trad­ing.

The big­ger the games like the World Cup, Euro­pean Cup, Sum­mer Olympics and Win­ter Olympics, the worse the stock mar­ket per­for­mance, es­pe­cially in the game’s host coun­tries.

“We find a sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket de­cline af­ter soc­cer losses,” the study led by Alex Ed­mans was quoted as say­ing.

“It sounds true,” saidmy hus­band. “In­vestors and traders stay up late to watch the games, so how can you ex­pect tired peo­ple to be fo­cused and be ac­tive traders the next day?”

On June 13, the first trad­ingMon­day af­ter the Euro­pean Cup opened on June 10, the Shanghai Com­pos­ite In­dex tum­bled 3.21 per­cent, to close at 2,833 points, the steep­est drop in a month.

There’s no re­search on this event ex­plor­ing the pre­cise link be­tween in­vestors, traders and sports fans, although peo­ple with com­mon sense are likely to as­sume the two are highly co-re­lated.

It may seem weird that China doesn’t have a world-class na­tional soc­cer team of its own, but is No 1 in terms of the sheer num­ber of its fans.

Evenmy lit­tle boy’s pas­sion has been ig­nited. He needs to check the match scores ev­ery morn­ing. Ar­gentina, Spain and Bel­gium are his top three teams. “How can I join China’s na­tional team? I want to play in it and fight for it,” saidmy 7-year-old.

Soc­cer is in­cluded inmy son’s ex­tracur­ric­u­lar school sports ac­tiv­i­ties once a week. When we were his age, we had bas­ket­ball and vol­ley­ball prac­tice. Soc­cer was never taught.

“This gen­er­a­tion has a bet­ter time and our na­tional team will have a brighter fu­ture,” saidmy hus­band.

Soc­cer ed­u­ca­tion is part of an of­fi­cial na­tional strat­egy, which aims to deepen the soc­cer in­dus­try’s re­form and de­velop the coun­try as a world soc­cer power. China aims to have some 20,000 pri­mary and mid­dle schools qual­i­fied to teach soc­cer by 2017 and around 50,000 by 2025.

The mar­ket size of China’s soc­cer in­dus­try is pro­jected to reach 2 tril­lion yuan ($303 bil­lion) by 2025, ac­cord­ing to the sport’s long-term devel­op­ment plan is­sued in April by the Na­tional Devel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion.

Along with Chi­nese bil­lion­aire in­vestors’ bold moves to buy pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional soc­cer clubs and sports agen­cies, and send­ing kids over­seas to get pro­fes­sional train­ing in top soc­cer camps, so­cial and pri­vate in­vest­ment is also be­ing en­cour­aged to get into the ju­nior soc­cer ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

Xicheng San­hao Co Ltd, a pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing in­sti­tute in Bei­jing, is such an agency, which has its eye on the youth soc­cer ed­u­ca­tion busi­ness.

Af­ter 10 months of ne­go­ti­a­tions, it has fi­nally re­ceived two of its con­tracted coaches from the youth train­ing camp af­fil­i­ated with Real Club De­portivoMal­lorca, a Spain soc­cer team based in Palma and a mem­ber of Primera divi­sion de Liga, known as Span­ish Primera Divi­sion.

It will co­op­er­ate with a bunch of schools in Bei­jing, out­sourc­ing the newly re­cruited Span­ish coaches’ ex­per­tise.

“I hope in five years we will form sev­eral qual­i­fied young player teams, ca­pa­ble of com­pet­ing with Euro­pean ri­vals in the fu­ture,” said Wang Zhao, president of Xicheng San­hao.

Be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur in an ed­u­ca­tional busi­ness, with a soc­cer dream, Wang knows now is a golden time to ride the wave to boost the soc­cer ed­u­ca­tion busi­ness.

Soc­cer is a game to watch for fun, to play for health and friend­ship, but also to in­vest in for re­turns.

Con­tact the writer at li­uweifeng@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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