Swiss company, Infront Sports & Media, has been named the exclusive marketing partner of the Chinese men's and women's national soccer teams, including the junior squads.
The international sports company, already a marketing partner of the Chinese Super League, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Beijing Infront Sports Consulting, signed an agreement with Chinese Football Association (CFA) in Beijing yesterday. The deal will expire at the end of 2010.
According to the agreement, Infront will work with the CFA in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
It also includes the implementation of a comprehensive technical development plan for the teams in close partnership with the CFA.
This will involve recruiting experts in specialized areas such as coaching, nutrition, scouting and mental conditioning. Furthermore, Infront will be responsible for organizing all home and away friendlies, according to the requirements of the CFA.
The agreement also covers all key aspects of marketing and technical development of the national teams at all levels.
On the commercial side, Infront will market all sponsorship (except kit supply), television, new media and image rights. "Infront has come up with an exciting concept. It is prepared to commit resources not just to the commercial program but to the development of the teams. In other words, it is sharing risks and rewards as a fully committed partner, identifying with the success of 'Team China' in the most profound sense," said Xie Yalong, vice chairman of the CFA.
"This is a new kind of relationship," said John Kristick, executive director of marketing for Infront. "In the past, some people saw agency relationship with sports as potentially exploitative. This is the opposite. We have goals, the national team has goals and they are the same goals: success on the playing field is the route to success for Chinese soccer."
Paul Wong, general manager of Infront's Beijing operation, added: "Infront China has been working closely with the CFA in the last three years. This new partnership takes the relationship to a much higher level and will strengthen the marketing potential both for both."
"China has the world's largest television audience, rising consumer wealth and a public passionate about soccer. It has been called 'an embryonic superpower of world football', whose market is now an essential part of any forward-thinking brand's global strategy," Wong added.
There are now six Chinese players playing for European clubs. The standard of play by Chinese footballers is rising sharply and Infront will work with the CFA to develop its teams through greater exposure to other teams at the international level.
Chinese fans are strongly supportive of their national teams in all major sports and enhanced performance by the squads will give product brands a powerful sponsorship platform to appeal directly to China's huge and growing group of middle-class consumers.
(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2006)