Chinese football opens the doors wide to Italy

The aim of China is clear: to host the World Championship 2030. There’ll be a lot of opportunities for Italian companies

China has a tough task ahead: to get ready for 2030, the year in which – Beijing government hopes – China will host the World Championship. In China, children are not used to play football in the street and there isn’t a football tradition comparable to that of the Western world and Italy in particular. For this reason, it is essential to invest on training and education. There is no point in expecting everything at once, but it is worth starting now in order to get results in 10-15 years. This is the strategy planned ahead by the Chinese government, and directly promoted by a very passionate supporter of football, the President Xi Jinping.

While, on one side, there are Chinese football clubs spending millions of euro to hire European players (and not just at the end of their career but still at their best) and acquiring shareholding of high-profile clubs, supported by Beijing authorities, on the other side there are plenty of job opportunities for Italian companies in China. Indeed, Italy boasts an invaluable know-how that could be extremely useful to China.

The first area
rich in opportunities
is that of technology

In order to train young Chinese from 6 years onwards to play football so that they can become good players by the time they are teenagers, China needs indoor equipment to help them acquire the right technique. For this reason, organizations are now making agreements with foreign teams, like the giant of media Hengdian with Bayern Monaco: the German make large use of these technologies. Italian companies may also play a part in this enterprise.

Synthetic fields and young coaches
The Chinese are undoubtedly very clever to build stadiums like mushrooms (there are no official data but it appears that each main metropolitan city has at least three stadiums), but they rely on Italy for synthetic sports fields, so middle and small Italian companies specialized in this field which still don’t have a contact in China should do something to get involved.

What to say about the young Italian football coaches? Not all of them have the opportunity to work for the most important clubs and China might be an attractive opportunity. Qualified and experienced trainers are indeed wanted in China to work at the football academies that are now starting to open, to teach the young Chinese not only the technique but also the love for football. I am not talking about Inter, Milan and Juventus, which have already made some steps in this direction (the former president of Inter, Zanetti, for example, has just launched the Inter Yanching Academy), but local academies which could offer good job opportunities for young Italian coaches.

Management and wellness to export
In China, there are also some sport management societies, as Andrea Pretti, football agent since 1991, knows well. He did his first trip to China in 2006 and started his own business in 2009, coinciding with the signing-up of his client Damiano Tommasi for the Tianjin Teda. At the end of the same year, TPS was founded, where he has been focusing his professional service and in-depth study of Chinese football for the last five years, aiming at developing projects for the football schools and the youth sector, football market strategies, and promoting sport and educational events.

The opportunities are also extended to the side activities such as wellness and fitness. Because the Chinese aim to increase the quality of life, starting from physical well-being, so Italian companies should take advantage of this situation.

(translation by Cecilia Braghin)


Mariangela Pira

Mariangela Pira Giornalista professionista, responsabile del Desk China di Class Editori. Scrive per Milano Finanza e da Class Cnbc cura le finestre sulle borse per Skytg24. Per il Ministero degli Affari Esteri ha curato Esteri News, notiziario della diplomazia italiana, progetto per cui ha viaggiato in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libano, Israele, Palestina e negli altri paesi dove è presente la Cooperazione italiana. Ha iniziato la sua carriera all’Ansa di New York. Ha scritto per Hoepli La nuova rivoluzione cinese.