Article by Luis Pinto
The football world has a new hotspot.
Chinese football has been growing over the years and it seems to have reached an important point in its history. For the first time ever, Chinese football clubs, fueled by money from investment funds, outspent other leagues in the winter transfer market. Five out of the six top transfers in the January market had Chinese clubs on the buying side.
Here are some of the big names that have recently moved to China:
Jackson Martinez – Atletico Madrid to GZ Evergrande for €42m (RMB 304,818,326); Alex Teixeira – Shakhtar to Jiangsu Suning for €50m (RMB 368,878,960); Ramires – Chelsea to JS Suning for €28m (RMB 203,212,217)
Gervinho – Roma to HB China Fortune for €18m (RMB 130,636,425)
Everybody seems to be moving to China, whose clubs, arguably, are signing bigger stars than the clubs from North American Major League Soccer, the other emerging market for football.
The staggering sums of money spent by Chinese clubs have been the most interesting aspect of an otherwise dull winter transfer window. However, what is really significant is that all three players are under 30. The Chinese Super League has effectively managed to persuade three footballers to leave Europe while still in their prime years.
It would be premature to suggest that we are witnessing a sudden and dramatic shift in power within the global game, but Chinese clubs have shown, in spectacular fashion, that they have the financial muscle to become major players in the transfer market. Indeed, the greatest demonstration of their burgeoning wealth is the fact that the Chinese Super League is among the top five highest spending leagues during this winter transfer. According to the TransferMarkt.com, which tracks commercial dealings in the sport, clubs in the increasingly wealthy CSL have, at the time of writing, spent 373.6 million Euros in China’s current transfer window. While European leagues are still the top spenders, it seems that China is quickly closing that gap.
I have been in China on and off since 2007 and I have always told everyone that football is a huge market and that the Chinese education system could support a stable development of Chinese football with a model like the American model of competition between schools, divided by regions. Every school has the infrastructure to start local and national competitions. I believe it can be done, if we can all work together to learn about football and to teach it to the children then they will be the future of a new Chinese football! Luisp1nt0@hotmail.com