Fans, sponsors make it a World Cup with Chinese characteristics

first_img0Shares0000Chinese football fans celebrate after Germany beat Argentina 2014 World Cup final © AFP/File / JOHANNES EISELESHANGHAI, China, Jun 4 – True to form, China failed to qualify for the World Cup but the planet’s most populous country will be far from absent: thousands of its fans will fly to Russia, and Chinese sponsors will loom large on global TV screens.Despite not being able to cheer on their home side, many Chinese supporters are undeterred, and they are expected to arrive in numbers that will dwarf the followers of many competing teams. The growing presence of fans and sponsors can be linked to China’s consumer boom, while excitement for football has been spurred on by President Xi Jinping’s ambitions to make 73rd-ranked China a world power in the sport.China have only qualified once for the World Cup — when they exited goalless in 2002 — but expectations are high that it will bid to hold the tournament, with 2030 and 2034 often mentioned as possibilities.One Chinese fan, Dai Qian, said he will spend nearly $10,000 to visit Russia and watch the tournament.“We appreciate football as an art and we like the feeling of watching live football,” said the 38-year-old, a university professor in energy engineering who will travel as part of a 400-strong Chinese tour group.According to the latest FIFA figures, nearly 37,000 tickets out of 1.7 million went to Chinese fans, the second-largest showing from countries that didn’t make the tournament, after the United States.Dai said that in the absence of their own team, Chinese fans back the countries of their favourite players. For him, it’s Argentina because he grew up watching Italy’s Serie A on TV and was a fan of Gabriel Batistuta, the former Fiorentina and Roma striker.– ‘Jump to be a global brand’ –The World Cup is a major advertising vehicle in China © AFP / WANG ZhaoAccording to research by Britain’s Professor Simon Chadwick, Germany are the most popular foreign team in China, with some female fans swayed by the players’ looks.It helps that Germany are reigning world champions and among the favourites in Russia.“There is something about ‘brand Germany’ and the relationship between Germany and China,” said Chadwick, professor of sports enterprise at University of Salford.“There are sections of the Chinese population who like to be conspicuous consumers — who like to be seen to be consuming the best brands, the best-quality brands, and that confers a particular status on them. The same is true of their football.“So if you can be a fan, why not pick the best?”Mark Dreyer, Beijing-based founder of the China Sports Insider website, said the growing ability of Chinese to afford overseas travel is a major reason for the large numbers going to the World Cup.Russia is also much closer geographically to China than, for example, the World Cup in Brazil four years ago.Television viewers across the globe and fans in World Cup stadiums will also become familiar with three tournament sponsors from China — tech company Vivo, electrical appliance and electronics supplier Hisense, and Mengniu Dairy.There is also FIFA sponsor Wanda Group, a Chinese conglomerate and formerly a major stakeholder in Spain’s Atletico Madrid.Zhu Shuqin, brand director at Hisense, declined to tell AFP how much the company paid for its sponsorship.But she said a similar deal at football’s 2016 European Championship in France “helped us greatly in our global market expansion”.That included a 60 percent surge in television sales in Europe in one quarter, Zhu said.Already well known in China, Hisense are eyeing the North American, European and Japanese markets.“We want to use such sponsorship to realise our globalisation goal,” said Zhu, outlining the company’s hopes from the World Cup.“Secondly, we can see in the global market of consumer electronics that the top companies, such as Samsung and Sony, all choose this kind of top event to sponsor so that they can jump to be a global brand from a regional one.”0Shares0000(Visited 3 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

Lacklustre Man Utd seal second with stalemate at West Ham

first_imgA third blank in their last five league games for United means local rivals Manchester City can seal another Premier League record by winning the league by at least 19 points if they win at Southampton on the last day of the season on Sunday.“We are the second best team in the Premier League, a fantastic competition with lots of good teams,” said Mourinho.“We came second. I am not totally happy (because) that is not my nature, but since the moment we felt it was impossible to finish first, we had the target to finish second and it is done today.”In United’s first game since legendary former manager Alex Ferguson had to have emergency surgery on a brain haemorrhage, the visiting fans showed their support to the 76-year-old Scot with persist chants of “we all love Alex Ferguson”.There was a more subdued atmosphere from the home fans at the end of another deeply frustrating campaign for the Hammers. Two years ago to the day, West Ham waved goodbye to Upton Park in a thrilling 3-2 win over United on a night of high emotion in East London.That victory also helped secure European football, but the move to the London Stadium, sold to supporters as West Ham’s chance to compete with the Premier League elite, has so far proved a false dawn.Survival was only mathematically secured last weekend and West Ham remain in lowly 15th place.“It’s a big achievement for us,” insisted West Ham manager David Moyes of keeping his side in the top flight.“We had to get the players in order a little bit after we came in, and we have done that. This is a big club and there are big expectations from the supporters so they will need to improve.”Mourinho reacted to Friday’s meek 1-0 defeat at Brighton by making eight changes with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial relegated to the bench despite the continued absence of the injured Romelu Lukaku.However, that failed to provoke an immediate response as West Ham posed the early threat.Marko Arnautovic’s goals have kept Moyes’s men up and the Austrian muscled his way into a good shooting position on six minutes but placed his shot too close to David de Gea.Adrian has been restored in the West Ham goal for the past three games in place of England international Joe Hart, and showed why with a hat-trick of fine saves.Jesse Lingard was first to be denied with a fiercely struck long-range effort before Adrian showed quick reflexes to save from Alexis Sanchez and then get back on his feet to turn Shaw’s effort onto the post.A lacklustre United display was reflected in Pogba again failing to take control of the game.The £89 million midfielder did have the visitors’ best chance when he headed wide just after the hour mark from Antonio Valencia’s pin-point cross.The Frenchman came a lot closer moments later with a strike that curled just past the post from a narrow angle.Pogba’s frustration then spilled over when he was lucky to escape with just a yellow card after grappling with West Ham captain Mark Noble as tempers flared in the latter stages.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000West Ham goalkeeper Adrian kept Manchester United at bay © AFP / Ian KINGTONLondon, United Kingdom, May 10 – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho refused to criticise his side despite another display lacking inspiration in attacking areas as they sealed second place in the Premier League with a 0-0 draw at West Ham on Thursday.In a game of precious few clear-cut chances, Luke Shaw hit the post and Paul Pogba headed wide with United’s best opening.last_img read more

Neil Warnock cannot wait for Brexit to happen already

first_imgCardiff City manager Neil Warnock has revealed he cannot wait to see the United Kingdom get out of the European Union, as citizens wait to see how the nation’s Brexit pans out.The details of the UK’s departure from the EU have been a major conversation in the media ever since a slim majority voted in favour of Brexit back in 2016.Now, as the deadline for the referendum approaches the United Kingdom’s parliament remains at a halt, while calls for a second referendum have become louder.It is undoubtedly a topic that demands patience and a lot of sensitivity; however Warnock, known for his blunt public statements insists he can’t wait for the 2016 decision to become a reality.MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Cardiff manager Neil Warnock celebrates with the fans after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Cardiff City at Old Trafford on May 12, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Warnock will coach Cardiff City for one more year Manuel R. Medina – May 15, 2019 The manager will guide the Bluebirds in the English Championship, but he will also help the team find his successor.“I think once the country knows what they’re doing, it will be straightforward [to make signings] … Any transfer window is difficult for me, not just this one,” he told reporters, according to Goal.“I don’t know why politicians don’t do what the country wants, if I’m honest.”“They had a referendum and now we see different politicians and everyone else trying to put their foot in it … Why did we have a referendum in the first bloody place?”“I can’t wait to get out of it, if I’m honest. I think we’ll be far better out of the bloody thing. In every aspect.” “Football-wise as well, absolutely. To hell with the rest of the world.”last_img read more

Four killed in a series of Nepal blasts

first_imgNepalFour men died and seven were injured Sunday in three separate explosions in Kathmandu, Nepali police said.There was no immediate claim of responsibility but police said they suspect involvement of a Maoist splinter group whose pamphlets were found in a house where one of the explosions took place.A powerful blast inside a shop killed three people and injured four, while the explosion at a home about four kilometres away left one dead and another injured.Two more were injured when an explosive they were carrying on a motorcycle in the outskirts of Kathmandu exploded.Security personnel also defused explosives in other areas.”We are investigating all incidents and have stepped up the security,” police spokesman Bishwa Raj Pokharel told AFP.Pokharel said that seven people have been arrested so far.The incidents come on the eve of a nationwide strike called the same Maoist splinter group, protesting death of their cadre in a police encounter over a week ago.Nepal has enjoyed a relatively peaceful environment since the end of a decade-long civil war which concluded with a peace deal struck in 2006.But some former guerrillas, have broken away, accusing its leaders of betraying their original revolutionary ideals.In February, the group was implicated in an explosion that killed one person outside the office of a telecom company Ncell, part of Malaysia-based Axiata Group Berhad.The government outlawed the group following the incident, banning their activities.last_img read more