Sports / Soccer

China the most promising market for Bayern

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-28 11:22

HANGZHOU - China has become Bayern Munich's most important market as the Bundesliga powerhouse foresee a bright picture for the world's most populous nation that has launched a reform plan on football, said Bayern club chairman Karl Heinz Rummenigge in an interview with Xinhua here on Wednesday.

Bayern announced its cooperation with Tmall Global, an overseas platform and an extension of Alibaba Group's B2C Tmall Business in China, and DHL to launch an official Bayern Munich online flagship store for consumers in China.

It is expected that about 90 million Chinese fans will purchase official fan merchandise from the Bayern club, and for the first time, Chinese fans can order the world's leading football team's official jersey with their favorite player's name.

Rummenigge stressed that China has the greatest potentiality and momentum from the commercial viewpoint and the Bavarian club want to profit from the government-supported football policy.

"Two years ago, we made it clear that we have two main markets: U.S. and China," said Rummenigge, "But China is the most important as the government have launched a football reform plan, which will bring momentum and policy for the sport."

The 59-year-old said Bayern want to help China in developing top-class youth coaches

"The most important thing for a nation to raise their football level is the quality of coaches in youth training, we want to help China in this way," he said.

Rummenigge used German football's rise as an example, saying that after a disastrous EURO 2000, The German Football Association (DFB) decided to reform the sport and build some good youth training academies within the clubs, which showed great effect since 2006, and the German national team benefited from it as they won the 2014 World Cup.

Rummenige is confident in Bayern's youth training system, hailing it more productive and successful than Barcelona's world-famous youth center: La Masia.

"We have a lot of players like Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Muller and Alaba from our youth training system, and some 75 players playing at the top level leagues around Europe grew up from our academy."

"Of course Barca have a few talented top players like Messi, but we trained more excellent players than they did," he added.

Rummenigge said that with strong government support, China is able to make progress in football and teams like Guangzhou Evergrande had shown good quality in the FIFA Club World Cup with a last-four finish in 2013.

Although Guangzhou lost 3-0 to Bayern in the semifinals, their strikers and the Brazilian players of the team impressed the former goal-scorer of the Mannschaft.

Rummenigge said Bayern is interested in signing one or two Chinese players, adding that he has noticed Wolfsburg's introduction of Chinese midfielder Zhang Xizhe to the Bundesliga.

Rummenigge said Bayern scouts had sought, in vain, Chinese "players with enough quality" in the past, but he believes Chinese will improve under the reform plan by patient down-to-earth work. ' Bayern will play three pre-season warm-ups in China: they will meet Valencia in the Bird's Nest National Stadium in Beijing on July 18, before entertaining Inter Milano in Shanghai on July 21 and Evergrande in Guangzhou on July 23.

Rummenigge also defended Pep Guadiola, saying that he is very satisfied of what Bayern achieved this season after the World Cup, in which 14 Bayern players took part, and he is proud of the third consecutive title in the Bundesliga with 10 points ahead of second-placed Wolfsburg.

As for the Champions League, Rummenigge also showed satisfaction.

"We had wonderful scores like 7-1 and 6-1 in the Champions League, we played well for more than 70 minutes against Barcelona, but Messi's 77th goal changed everything, after that the team lost balance," he said.

"But we lost because we were playing the No. 1 team in the world, and we were playing without sharp wingers like Robben and Ribery, and Alaba due to injury. I think the criticisms against Pep are unfair."

The football legend not only defended Guadiola's coaching results this season, but also admitted he likes the Spaniard's style and philosophy, hailing Guadiola's "advanced trend of the future".

"Yes, I'm happy with the style (of Bayern)," he said.

When asked to compare the styles of the Mannschaft under Joachim Low, Guadiola's Bayern, the Spanish Tiki-Taka, and Total Football in the 1970s by the Netherlands, Rummenigge has his own explanation: "I think Germany's style has the same base with Spain, but they are different in defence. Germany focus more on defence, while Spain put more attention on the offensive part.

"Football is very different from 20 or 30 years ago when I played. It's much more physical, and coaches can train by the help of videos and laptops, and coaches should face more pressure from the media now."

Although preferring attacking football, Rummenigge said he respects the style of Chelsea and Athletico Madrid, as the two clubs achieved great results in recent years. But he still seemed to dislike defensive football, saying that the time he played in Italy where a lot of teams adopted defensive tactics, more often with Catenaccio, is "nightmare" for attackers.

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