Team China leave after the match against Qatar in 2018 World Cup qualification match on Tuesday (15/11). China earns a 0-0 draw with Qatar. (Reuters Photo/Stringer)

China Not Ready for Sports Industry Boom: Expert


NOVEMBER 25, 2016

Jakarta. With a huge ambition in domestic and international sports, China falls short in implementing its glamorous vision for success in sports, sport marketing expert Mark Thomas said in an essay published this week.

China has launched a massive push in bringing sports-based economic growth to the country after President Xi Jinping in 2014 declared the creation of a domestic sports industry worth $850 billion by 2025.

With a string of highly inflated acquisitions, mostly in football, China is realizing another ambitious vision of hosting a FIFA World Cup and boasting a top 20 world ranking.

Thomas, a managing director at Shanghai-based sports business agency S2M Group, suggested the Asian giant must tweak its plans after the first phase of development falls short.

Marcello Lippi's national men's squad currently sits at the bottom of the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifier and has been beaten by Uzbekistan, Qatar and war-torn Syria while Iran tops group A after five games.

Marcello Lippi reacts from pitchside during a match versus Qatar last week. The Italian was named China's national team coach in October. (Reuters Photo/Stringer)

Thomas said China has the capital, but not the manpower as the industry is a niche that demands specialization. He also stressed the importance of sustainable business models among global brands that are further developed.

"Given the relative embryonic nature of the [sports] industry, there is currently a glaring gap in the human capital and know-how that can support the development of these sustainable business models that could breathe life into these rights and properties," Thomas wrote in his LinkedIn post on Monday.

"The Chinese sports industry is not managed with care and attention. In the current land grab for sports content of all types, at often super highly inflated prices, there is real and imminent danger that an economic bubble is being created."

However, at last, only time will tell, Mark insisted.

"We can only hope, as the inevitable issues are encountered, China's leaders are well advised in order to adapt and move forward to develop a long-term and sustainable sports industry."