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This Chinese soccer club is now the world’s 16th most valuable, thanks to Alibaba

This Chinese soccer club is now the world s 16th most valuable thanks to Alibaba Quartz

This Chinese soccer club is now the world s 16th most valuable thanks to Alibaba Quartz

What’s behind Alibaba’s big buy? Branding, for one. Soccer is far and away China’s most popular spectator sport. As the company explained in the updated IPO prospectus it filed yesterday, the Evergrande investment “would potentially provide us with a marketing platform with access to millions of soccer fans across China.”


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Still, it’s not entirely clear whether this purchase is worth it. China’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. Here’s how the team stacks up in FIFA’s latest point-based rankings, wedged between Equatorial Guinea and Iraq in the 103rd spot (for FIFA’s methodology, read this):



Part of the reason for China’s relatively weak performance in the sport 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. “Education is this huge monster in China and is really demanding on the kids,” the American coach Trevor Lamb told the South China Morning Post (paywall). “Kids of 10 years old are doing three or four hours of homework a night. It’s incredibly competitive and there’s not much room for any sport, let alone football.”

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.

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