This Chinese soccer club is now the worldâ€™s 16th most valuable, thanks to Alibaba
Geege Schuman stashed this in Alibaba
Whatâ€™s behind Alibabaâ€™s big buy? Branding, for one.Â Soccer is far and away Chinaâ€™s most popular spectator sport.Â AsÂ the companyÂ explainedÂ in theÂ updated IPO prospectusÂ it filedÂ yesterday, the Evergrande investment â€śwould potentially provide us with a marketing platform with access to millions of soccer fans across China.â€ť
Still, itâ€™s not entirely clear whether this purchase isÂ worth it. Chinaâ€™s just not that great at soccer, compared with the rest of the world. The only time it has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002. Hereâ€™s how the team stacks up in FIFAâ€™s latest point-based rankings, wedged between Equatorial Guinea and Iraq inÂ the 103rd spot (forÂ FIFAâ€™sÂ methodology,Â read this):
Part of the reason for Chinaâ€™s relatively weak performance in the sportÂ may be that even though people love to watch it, not so many of its children play it, in part because the narrow focus on academic competition among youngsters, as well as the excessive homework load. â€śEducation is this huge monster in China and is really demanding on the kids,â€ť theÂ American coach TrevorÂ Lamb toldÂ the South China Morning PostÂ (paywall). â€śKids of 10 years old are doing three or four hours of homework a night. Itâ€™s incredibly competitive and thereâ€™s not much room for any sport, let alone football.â€ť
Still, you'd think in a country of a billion people there'd be at least 25 world class players.
Btw this is part of what makes Alibaba different: vertical integration.
You'd never see Google, Facebook, or Amazon buying a professional sports team.