China football industry

[Infographic] China Football Industry: Trends and Opportunity

The development of China football industry offers attractive prospects for the emerging sports equipment market

On 22 October 2016, the Italian former professional football player Marcello Lippi was appointed coach of the Chinese football team. This decision is further evidence of the new dimension Chinese authorities want to give to the Chinese soccer. The former Italian national team head coach, who led Italy to win the 2006 FIFA World Cup, should help the Chinese national team, also called « Guózú » (in Chinese国足), to move to a new level.

This appointment is part of the Chinese plan to democratize football. Indeed, Xi Jinping wants to shake the Chinese football out of its torpor. Currently, the Chinese team occupies the 84th position in the FIFA World Ranking, behind South Korea (44th) and Japan (51st). The presidential ambition is to become the best team in Asia by 2030, before reaching the top of the FIFA World Ranking by 2050. In comparison, the well-performing Chinese women’s football team occupies the 13th place in the FIFA World Ranking. Certainly, there is less competition in women’s football than for men’s football, but the Chinese women’s team is ahead of the European big football nations like Spain, Italy or Portugal.

To make China a serious contender for the world title, authorities would like to develop football practice at all levels, from amateur to professional level. That is why significant investments are made to develop football infrastructures. To reach 250 million of football players by 2025, the Chinese government plans to build 50,000 new football academies and 60,000 of new football pitches. All of this would be spread over more than a million amateur clubs.

While the will to develop football in China mainly comes from the Chinese authorities, which has made football compulsory in all Chinese schools for two years, more and more Chinese people are seduced by soccer. According to a Nielsen report, 31% of the Chinese are interested in football and this figure is growing steadily. This attraction for football can offer a promising outlook for the football-related markets.

The growing interest in football in China will allow new markets to emerge. The market of football learning is estimated to USD 20 billion, while sports equipment market could reach USD 25 billion. Competition promises to be tough for equipment manufacturers to achieve the top position in this market.