By Wendi Song
Photo by Soccerex and Huafa Sports
Over 1,300 delegates from 52 countries including many leaders within football gathered in Hengqin Shizimen CBD on 17 and 18 April for Soccerex China 2018, discussing the future trends and business opportunities of the football industry.
The summit discussed some of the hottest topics impacting football today including new media, VR technology, big data, IP, youth training, e-sports and the injection of Chinese capital to the domestic game.
It is worth noting that, apart from being held in China for the first time, 13 out of the 24 public talks at Soccerex mentioned their relevance to China in the session titles. The development and future of Chinese football and its industry has attracted unprecedented attention.
Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura, Secretary General of FIFA, gave the opening speech in which she emphasized the importance of the Chinese consumer market, which welcomes the sport with open arms.
“The FIFA 2.0 Strategy has a clear vision,” said Samoura, “By 2026, more than 60% of the world population will be participating in football – and how could we dream of achieving this without focusing on China, on 1.4 billion fans or fans-to-be of the beautiful game?”
Soccerex Chairman Tony Martin said China has “the biggest potential fan base anywhere in the world,” and “the most relevant football market that has ever been.”
Martin cited China’s National Football Plan: to develop 50,000 schools specializing in football and to host and win the World Cup by 2050.
According to official data from the Soccerex organization, China currently has more than 500 million people watching football matches online. In the past decade, China’s economic investment in football has increased by 600% with market estimates expecting it to continue to grow by 400% by 2025.
Industry insiders said that youth training may become the driving force for China’s future football industry.
Zhuhai will involve more people in football by providing facilities, training and education to the young generations.
Guo Caiwu, the Secretary General of the Zhuhai Municipal Party Committee, said that the plan is to increase the number of football fields in Zhuhai to 300 in the next five years, with at least one per 10,000 residents. There will also be a national southern football-training base and 50 training schools for teenage athletes, with the intent that half of all primary and middle schoolers will be playing football.
“The city needs to double down on efforts to develop the sport,” he said. “It should take full advantage of cooperation with Soccerex.”
Representatives of Soccerex organizer Huafa Group said that they hope to introduce high-level football clubs to Zhuhai in the future.
Guangdong-Macau Cooperative Development Fund Management Co. will invest RMB2 billion to ensure completion of Hengqin Science City Phase I by 2021 and the inception of Phase II.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Hengqin’s GMTCM Park last Monday 22 October
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty achieved the biggest win of the year after taking out the 2018 WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai at Hengqin International Tennis Center on Sunday.
The 2018 Hengqin-Macau Youth Entrepreneurship Training Camp held its opening ceremony on 26 October in Inno Valley HQ in Hengqin.