A Chinese LED manufacturer is going to buy Football Club Sochaux very soon. This is only a latest move by Chinese capitals in the French market. Before this, Chinese businesses have cooperation with Paris Saint-Germain, Stade de Reims-Champagne and many other clubs. This cooperation has been a long march. French football market was once hesitant about Chinese investments. The author of a book about Chinese investments in Europe took Huawei as an example. “Huawei sponsored EUR1.3 million every year, in order to better sell their mobile phones and tablets in France. However, the clubs took some risks by accepting the sponsorship.” “The sources of Chinese investments are often not clear enough. We do not know whether they are private money or public funds.” Therefore, French clubs would be hesitant about it very often.
However, under economic pressures, the hesitation was soon conquered. In 2004, senior managements of Metz football club cooperated with Chinese football for youth and coach trainings.
Another club, Association de laJeunesse Auxerroise, once accepted two Chinese players. Now the club is looking for investments for their youth training.
“Any presidents of football clubs would have interest in the Chinese market, because it’s very large,” the ex-manager of Le Mans UC72 said. He said that, the way to deal with Chinese businessmen is not much the same with the way with Qatar people, but that Chinese people paid like Qatar people.
The French Ligue 1 is certainly interested in this market as well. In 2004, Champion's Trophy was held in Beijing. Ligue 1 hopes to make CCTV-5 broadcast their games. It is their “big project.” At the same time, they look for partners through different channels. They aim to promote the entire league, not one or two clubs.
They also opened WeChat account. It is said that there are 500 million users. In this Chinese New Year which was about two months ago, the WeChat account posted New Year’s greetings and posters in Chinese. It publishes highlights of matches on a frequent basis.
Maybe French football does have a long way to go in the Chinese market. But who knows? Perhaps they would get good chances as the market develops.