Retail giant Suning has bought a majority share of Italian soccer club Inter Milan. Soccer expert Rowan Simons suggests in Time that those high-profile purchases might help some egos, but is unlikely to boost soccer in China.
“For a brand like Sunning, there has to be a global branding angle,” says Rowan Simons, an expert on Chinese soccer and author of Bamboo Goalposts. “And there are definitely ego factors at play here, similar to the other billionaires from the Arab states, Russia or the U.S. that have made similar acquisitions.”…
“There’s a growing feeling that these sorts of acquisitions actually do nothing to help Chinese football at all,” agrees Simons. “The problems are laid out very clearly in [Xi’s] plan and it begins with the grassroots.”
China remains bereft of independent, amateur soccer clubs that foster young people enjoying the sport — an unfortunate legacy of the Chinese Communist Party’s aversion to any social enterprise outside its purview that may potentially challenge its dominion.
“Any amount of investment at the elite level ultimately will not turn into a good China national team unless you have millions of kids out there playing for fun,” says Simons.
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