20 July 2019
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will kick off in Russia on Thursday. Photo: Reuters
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will kick off in Russia on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Chinese brands sub for national soccer team in World Cup

Bai Yansong, China’s top TV anchor, hits the nail right on the head. He says everyone has gone to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, except the national soccer team.

There’s no use rubbing it in that Team China failed to qualify for this edition of the most widely followed sporting event in the world, but it’s really a huge letdown for President Xi Jinping, an avid soccer fan who aims to make his nation a force to reckon with in the beautiful game.

But China will still be making big waves at the month-long football competition, which kicks off on Thursday, thanks to the oodles of cash that its giant corporations are spending on the event.

Indeed, China money will make its presence felt in Russia. One-third of the global sponsors of the World Cup are Chinese companies led by property conglomerate Wanda Group, handset maker Vivo and three Hong Kong-listed companies – milk producer Mengniu, white goods maker Hisense and e-bike manufacturer Yadea.

These Chinese bigshots will be standing along with such global brands as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and Adidas to fight for the attention of millions of football fans.

It will be a sort of an international debut for these Chinese brands, especially in the case of Yadea, which not too many people outside of mainland China and Hong Kong have heard of.

But it is the country’s largest electrical two-wheel vehicle maker. It listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange two years ago.

The company saw its shares surge to a year’s high after posting a profit of 400 million yuan (US$62.46 million) last year from the sale of 2.3 million e-bikes.

It is estimated that some 40,000 World Cup tickets have been sold in China, on top of the several hundred millions of fans who will watch the event at home.

So get ready for your sleeping patterns to be disrupted, and bosses should prepare for a temporary plunge in productivity as sleep-deprived employees ring in sick a bit more often than usual for the duration of the tournament.

Don’t get too excited, though. The level of playing on the pitch may be disappointing because many of the superstars representing their respective countries are probably a bit too exhausted at the end of the regular league season.

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EJ Insight writer

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