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2015年度报告

China elite fuel country’s football obsession
中国自上而下的“足球梦”

足球在中国正成为一项热门产业,既受到领导层的支持,又得到大财团的资本投入。然而中国足球要想走向世界,还得要培养出世界级的球员。

Angie Quan still recalls the epiphany that occurred the first time she watched Liverpool football club play on television.

Angie Quan还记得她第一次在电视上看利物浦足球俱乐部(Liverpool)比赛时那种醍醐灌顶的感觉。

“It was like a religious conversion,” the Beijing resident and events planner says, crediting her fluent English, and interest in all things Liverpool, to football. “I felt like someone was . . . saying, ‘Hey, Angie, this is your team’.”

这名居住在北京的活动策划者表示:“感觉就像是宗教皈依。我觉得好像有人在说,‘嘿,Angie,这是你的球队’。”她将自己流利的英语以及对利物浦的一切兴趣都归功于足球。

Her love affair with the 2005 Champions League winners mirrors a trend across the country as urbanisation spawns twin desires for leisure and entertainment.

她对2005年欧洲冠军联赛获胜者的迷恋反映了中国各地涌现的一股趋势:随着中国城镇化进程的推进,人们对休闲和娱乐的需求也随之增加。

Beneficiaries include Europe’s biggest teams, such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, all of whom have gained huge followings in China and Asia more broadly in the past decade.

这一趋势的受益者包括欧洲诸多强队,比如利物浦、曼联(Manchester United)、巴塞罗那(Barcelona)和皇家马德里(Real Madrid),近十年来,这些球队在中国乃至整个亚洲吸引了大批球迷。

“All the top European clubs have huge dollar signs in their eyes when they look at China,” says Cameron Wilson, founder of Wild East Football, an English language Chinese football blog. “People have been really going bold on Chinese football so that when it finally does explode, they will be in a position to capitalise.”

英文的中国足球博客网站“狂热东方足球”(Wild East Football)创始人卡梅隆•威尔逊(Cameron Wilson)表示:“当欧洲所有顶级足球俱乐部将目光转向中国时,他们的眼睛里闪烁着巨大的美元符号。人们对中国足球真的一直抱有大胆的想法,因此当这个市场最终爆发时,他们已经做好了从中获利的准备。”

While ticket sales and advertising have been slower to take off, merchandising is in evidence in everything from a Manchester United themed bar in Shanghai to a thriving online trade in David Beckham products (including life-sized dolls).

虽然中国足球产业的门票收入及广告销售一直增长缓慢,但已经出现了各式各样的相关生意,比如上海的曼联主题酒吧,以及互联网上销售火爆的大卫•贝克汉姆(David Beckham)相关产品(包括真人大小的玩偶)。

Wealthier buyers are putting their money into the real thing, placing dizzying bets on the success of the sport in China. Among the most eye-catching was January’s move by Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, to invest $52m buying a stake in Atletico Madrid, Spanish league winners in 2014.

而较为富裕的中国买家则切切实实地做出了投资,本着对足球运动将会在中国获得成功的信心,他们完成了一桩又一桩令人目眩的收购。其中最夺人眼球的是今年1月中国首富王健林投资5200万美元,收购了2013—2014赛季西甲联赛冠军马德里竞技(Atletico Madrid)的股份。

During Xi Jinping’s state visit to Britain in October, China’s president visited the training ground of Manchester City football club, where he stopped for a selfie with UK prime minister David Cameron and Sergio Aguero, the club’s star striker.

习近平、阿奎罗与卡梅伦

It seemed to have been a subtle hint. Last week a Chinese consortium including China Media Capital dutifully bought a 13 per cent stake in Man City’s parent company for $400m.

中国国家主席习近平在10月对英国进行了国事访问,期间他参观了曼城(Manchester City)足球俱乐部的训练场地,习近平还在此停下脚步,与英国首相戴维•卡梅伦(David Cameron)以及曼城球星塞尔吉奥•阿奎罗(Sergio Aguero)一起自拍了一张照片。

Li Ruigang, the billionaire head of CMC, also recently gave the domestic game a vote of confidence when he outbid state network CCTV to pay Rmb8bn ($1.2bn) for the TV rights to China’s super league for the next five years. This was a hefty premium on previous years, where the going rate was about Rmb50m a year.

这似乎是一个微妙的暗示。近日,一个包括华人文化产业投资基金(China Media Capital,简称CMC)在内的中国财团斥资4亿美元,收购了曼城母公司13%的股份。

Peter Schloss, chief executive at CastleHill Partners, a Beijing-based sports and media agency, says the Chinese leadership’s backing is key. “Xi Jinping is an avid soccer fan and so people are following his lead. It’s typical . . . when the government gets behind a certain sector, a lot of people pile into that sector, and the first ones in usually do make money.”

CMC负责人、亿万富翁黎瑞刚最近还对中国足球投出了一张信任票,他以80亿元人民币(约12亿美元)的报价打败了官媒中央电视台(CCTV),买下了中超联赛未来五年的电视转播权。这个数字比此前的转播费高出了许多,之前的行情约为一年5000万元人民币。

The deals have not been limited to foreign clubs. Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba, the ecommerce group, last year took a 50 per cent stake in Guangzhou Evergrande, the best team in China that recently won the Asia Cup for the second time in three years.

北京一家体育媒体公司CastleHill Partners的首席执行官彼得•施洛斯(Peter Schloss)表示,中国领导层的支持是关键。“习近平酷爱足球,因此群众也追随着他的喜好。这很典型……当政府部门对某个领域予以支持后,许多人就扎堆到这一领域,而第一批赶来的人往往能赚到钱。”

The other compelling reason behind the push into football is that China is among the world’s most underpenetrated sports markets. Total revenues from ticketing, merchandise and advertising were estimated at $3.4bn this year, compared with $63.6bn in the US, according to consultancy PwC.

中国收购者的目光已不再局限于外国俱乐部。电商集团阿里巴巴(Alibaba)董事长马云(Jack Ma)去年收购了中国最好的球队广州恒大(Guangzhou Evergrande)50%的股份,这支球队最近刚赢得了亚洲杯,这是他们在三年里第二度捧起这座奖杯。(上图说明:在2015赛季亚冠联赛的决赛中,广州恒大的队员们正在庆祝胜利。)

But with the Chinese market among the world’s third-fastest growing, European clubs are anxious to spread their brands into the country through partnership programmes, exhibition matches, merchandise sales and Mandarin language websites.

这股足球产业投资热背后还有另一个不可抗拒的理由,中国是全世界发展空间最大的体育市场之一。据咨询公司普华永道(PwC)的数据,中国今年的体育门票、商品和广告总收入估计为34亿美元,而美国是636亿美元。

Punters also bet big on Chinese super league matches, which have continued to grow in popularity in spite of being tarnished by a series of match-fixing scandals.

但随着中国体育市场成为全球增速第三的市场,欧洲俱乐部都急于将自己的品牌传播到中国,它们的途径包括展开合作伙伴计划、举行表演赛、销售商品以及建立俱乐部的中文网站。

A report last year by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist party’s anti corruption watchdog, denounced “severe existing problems” with corruption in Chinese football. “Players, referees, club managers and even football association officials are mired in betting and corruption scams,” the report concluded.

赌球者也对中超联赛产生了极大兴趣,这项赛事越来越受到欢迎,尽管其声誉受到一系列假球丑闻的影响。

Attempts continue to clean up the game. Yet another vital hurdle remains to Chinese football success — its players are just not good enough to compete in the world’s top leagues.

去年中共反腐机构中纪委在一份报告中痛斥中国足坛各种与腐败相关的严重问题。报告称,“球员、裁判员、俱乐部负责人乃至足协官员深陷赌球和行贿受贿的泥潭。”

“There is nobody Chinese playing at a major club in Europe,” notes Mr Wilson. “That is surprising considering how desperate European clubs are to sign a really good Chinese player — that would be a great way to make themselves popular in China. ”

中国仍在努力整顿足坛,但中国足球要想获得成功,还要跨越另一道重要障碍——中国球员的水平还不足以在世界顶级联赛中竞技。

A superstar player would be transformative, say analysts who point to the effect Shanghai-born Yao Ming had on Chinese basketball. The former Houston Rockets player, who retired in 2011, almost single-handedly popularised basketball as a national sport in China.

威尔逊指出:“没有一名中国籍球员在欧洲主流俱乐部效力。这一点非常令人惊讶,因为欧洲豪门十分迫切地想要签下一名真正优秀的中国球员,这将是它们在中国推广自己的一种非常有效的方式。”

President Xi has frequently said that one of his goals as leader is to help China qualify for the World Cup — and eventually also host it. Although China appeared at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, the team lost all three matches and failed to score a goal.

有分析人士指出,一名足球巨星将带来变革式效应,犹如上海出生的姚明给中国篮球带来的影响。姚明曾效力于休斯顿火箭队(Houston Rockets),2011年退役,他几乎凭借一己之力将篮球运动推广成中国的一项全民运动。

“My greatest hope for Chinese football is that Chinese teams can become one of best in the world,” he said ahead of his UK visit. “That football can play an important role in strengthening peoples’ physique and inspiring a relentless fighting spirit.”

中国国家主席习近平常说他的梦想之一,就是中国队能打入世界杯,且最终中国能主办世界杯。虽然中国队曾出现在2002年韩日世界杯的赛场上,但小组赛三场皆输,而且未进一球。

Additional reporting by Ma Fangjing

习近平在这次出访英国前曾表示:“我对中国足球的最大期待,就是中国足球能跻身世界强队,使足球运动为增强人民体质、激励人们顽强奋斗精神发挥重要作用。”

马芳婧补充报道

译者/彩云

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