Chi­nese cash ‘good news for Euro­pean soc­cer’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By XIN­HUA

Um­berto Gan­dini, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ital­ian Serie A foot­ball club A. S. Roma, and Dar­iusz Mio­duski, owner of Pol­ish club Le­gia Warszawa said on Tues­day at the 11th Dubai In­ter­na­tional Sports Con­fer­ence that the rise of Chi­nese in­vestors in the Euro­pean foot­ball league was a bless­ing for the most pop­u­lar sport on the con­ti­nent.

Speak­ing at a panel dis­cus­sion on the fu­ture of gover­nance in Euro­pean foot­ball clubs, Mio­duski noted that the sport “can’t keep the foot­ball leagues static”.

He added: “Soc­cer is a dy­namic game and we also need dy­namism when man­ag­ing the clubs.”

When asked about how he judged the re­cent flow of Chi­nese money into the leagues, he said that “new in­vestors bring new ideas, new ex­pe­ri­ences which bring foot­ball for­ward”.

Gan­dini agreed, say­ing that the en­gage­ment of buy­ers and spon­sors from China “brings sta­bil­ity into the foot­ball busi­ness and you win more fans on so­cial me­dia for the clubs”.

He said it was a dif­fer­ent kind of own­er­ship, but the eco­nomic prin­ci­ples were the same.

“They want t he clubs and their play­ers to suc­ceed,” he said. Gan­dini is also the UEFA Club Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mit­tee vicechair­man.

The last few years have seen a raft of new deals be­tween Chi­nese firms and Euro­pean clubs. Ear­lier this year, China’s Sun­ing Hold­ings Group, a pro­ducer of home ap­pli­ances from Nan­jing, Jiangsu prov­ince, bought a 68.55 per­cent ma­jor­ity stake in Italy’s top club In­ter Mi­lan. This took place at a time when Eng­land’s Premier League club Manch­ester City sold a 13 per­cent stake for $400 mil­lion to in­vest­ment group China Me­dia Cap­i­tal.

China’s tech gi­ant Huawei and Dutch club Ajax Am­s­ter­dam joined forces back in 2014, in a deal that led to the Chi­nese firm up­grad­ing the tech­nol­ogy of the Ajax Am­s­ter­dam Arena.

Mio­duski ex­pressed his hopes that any in­vestor, whether from China or else­where, that in­vests in the Euro­pean soc­cer in­dus­try would also help main­tain the spirit of the sport and keep the game front and cen­ter.

“We shall not make the mis­take of copy­ing the sports busi­ness in the United States, which is cen­tral­ized and where sports fol­lows busi­ness,” he said.

The Pol­ish in­vestor and foot­ball club owner from War­saw shared his ex­pe­ri­ence about a match he vis­ited as a spec­ta­tor in the United States re­cently.

“I re­cently watched a bas­ket­ball match of the Hous­ton Rock­ets. I did not feel any fire in the sta­dium, but I sensed that all spon­sors and stake­hold­ers want to sell their prod­ucts to the spec­ta­tors,” he said.

“It is all about money and this is weigh­ing on the sport­ing mood.”

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