Business / Industries

Soccer frenzy draws crowds, sponsors

By Emma Gonzalez (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-06 11:25

Huang Huan, a young professional in her thirties, does not consider herself to be a soccer fan.

Yet, she spent 580 yuan ($93.4) on a single ticket - a small fortune for the average Chinese - to watch Germany's Bayern Munich and Spain's Valencia CF play at Beijing's Olympic stadium recently.

Huang is one of the millions of Chinese who were caught up in a summer soccer frenzy.

"European soccer is the talk of the town," she said, explaining the expenditure.

Soccer has grown into a social phenomenon in China that is now reaching far beyond the bounds of mere sport.

It has become the ultimate moneymaking machine.

Eight teams from Europe's soccer elite traveled to China during July and August, to play in four different tournaments to cash in on the growing appetite for the sport here.

While reaping the huge financial benefits of increasingly competitive leagues back home, the addition of new markets and sponsors elsewhere is also making a huge difference to the bottom lines of some of Europe's biggest names.

The latest figures from UK-based consultancy firm Deloitte suggest that by the end of the 2016-17 season, the European soccer market is expected to worth 25 billion euros ($27.38 billion), up from 20 billion euros in 2013-14, boosted by a growing interest in the sport in Asia and the United States.

According to Bayern Munich executive board member Jorg Wacker: "China has become our new focus market and our research shows that we now have 90 million potential fans in the country."

The Bundesliga champions raked in more than $10 million from their recent nine-day China trip, according to German newspaper Bild.

Italy's Inter Milan, another giant of the European game, meanwhile, sold a total of 92,000 tickets for the three matches it played in China.

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