Chinese football investments move European leagues forward: Experts

Dubai, Dec 27 (IANS) Umberto Gandini, chief executive officer of Italian Serie A football club A.S. Roma and Dariusz Mioduski, owner of Polish club Legia Warszawa, on Tuesday said that the rise of Chinese investors in the European football league is a blessing for the most popular sport on the continent.

Addressing a panel discussion on the future of governance in European football clubs at the 11th Dubai International Sports Conference, Mioduski noted that the sport “can’t keep the football leagues static. Soccer is a dynamic game and we need dynamism also when managing the clubs,” reports Xinhua news agency.

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. It is a different kind of ownership, but the economic principles are the same: they want the clubs and their players to succeed,” he said.

Gandini is also the UEFA Club Competition Committee Vice Chairman.

The last several years have been rife with new cooperation between Chinese firms and European clubs.

Earlier this year, China’s Suning Holdings Group, a producer of home appliances, bought a majority stake of 68.55 percent in Italy’s top club Inter Milan.

England’s Premier League club Manchester City sold a 13 percent stake for 400 million dollars to investment group China Media Capital.

China’s ICT giant Huawei and the Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam joined forces back in 2014, in a deal that saw the Chinese firm upgrade the technology of the Ajax Amsterdam Arena.

Mioduski expressed the hope that any investor, whether from China or elsewhere, who invests in the European soccer industry will also help maintain the spirit of the sport and keep football front and centre.

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

Explaining further, the Polish investor and football club owner from Warsaw shared his experience about a match he witnessed 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. It is all about money and this is weighing on the sporting mood,” he said.

–IANS

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