Football market development in China


As the most popular sport on the planet, football has great influence in vast fields of industries. As the most populated country, China has a massive potential to have more fans than any country. Let’s start from the beginning to fully understand football’s history in China to foresee the potential market growth.

Introduction of China football market

China’s football market is a very special market. To go deeper, we have to understand its history.

Ancient football in China, called “Cu Ju”

It was actually the Chinese who were the first football players in human history. Football was invented in the 12th century in China. But the game was poorly developed and kept its old ways until it died off. Football was reintroduced to China in the early 1900s and Chinese teams thrived and was once the best in the far east. After many years of war and political unrest, Chinese football is once again reborn and dominated the scene. In 1984, China won second place in the Asian Cup and 1989 Liao Ning was the Asian Cup champion.
Four years later, China League established an organization that marked the professionalization of China football market. However, it also marked the dark age of Chinese football. In the next two decades, the performance of football in China disappointed the new generation of football fans again and again. Scandals and corruptions ran rampantly causing fans to lose respect and interest in the game they once loved.

Banner made by Chinese football fans means you ruined yourselves and kick your fans away

As a result, old generation of fans who loved local football turned away and the young generation of fans became foreign football fans. Many football stars like Pele and Wenger have expressed their surprise at how football teams in China can be so unorganized in a country full of football fans.
Football in China is full of business opportunities. It is estimated that billions dollars are spent every year in football related business and there are tens of millions fans who would like to buy shirts, shoes and goods endorsed by stars and clubs they support.

Manutd fans in China

Many big stars and clubs have already realized their influence in China can bring them a considerable income. Manchester United is the leader in making their presence known who has over 20 million supporters, Sina news report. (Source: Sina)
However, after 10 long years of decline, Chinese football is slowly making a comeback. Clubs are investing millions and fans are starting to take notice, we can see one of the most popular sports in the world is increasing its popularity and influence in China.

Opportunities in China football market

The growing attention on football is bringing out many business opportunities.

Opportunities for football stars

For players, business opportunities usually means product endorsement deals. In China, you can find football star endorsements in many fields from sporting goods to computer to video games.
What’s more, those companies who consider football star endorsements are usually big corporations who are willing to invest large sums of money, such as Jiu Cheng an online game operation dealer.

Drogba and the game he endorses

Jiu Cheng, offers Drogba 3.1 million Euro for representing their game for one year.
Besides, those companies many different business will also expand the influence of stars to other fields not direct to the football industry.

Opportunities for clubs

Influence and income are very important for clubs. The long-term development and the future is crucial to short-term financial performance. Friendly games, sales of shirts and other souvenirs of the club in China is the most direct way to achieve these two goals at the same time.

Be influential in China football market

No matter what kind of opportunities you are seeking, the influence of players or clubs in China is what companies need to promote their brand.

However, not everyone is a football celebrity god like Ronaldo or Messi. Many football players also seek ways on improving their personal branding in China.

SNS Promotion

Considering the constant change in the football field, SNS platform is the best technique to promote because information can be spread quickly and in mass. Through SNS stars can build also a community off of football’s massive online fans.

Among all the SNS platforms, Sina Weibo has the most users. Now half of Chinese citizens are Weibo users and many football stars from Europe, especially Premiership have opened Weibo accounts to build their own community.

Weibo account of Rio Ferdinand

Weibo Account of Bonucci


Don’t forget the power of public relations. There has been a lot of information about China PR promotion.

News about Balotelli

Reputation control

When you want to increase your awareness in China, ones reputation can make or break your image. Many stars’ reputation have been ruined for their lack of reputation control. Too many scandals can be bad news for your reputation.

Box news about Balotelli
Box news about Balotelli

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  1. Thank you for some other magnificent analysis, and your blog about marketing in China. Where else could anyone get that kind of info in such nice manner
    of writing? I have a presentation this week and your website help me a lot , and I’m on the look for that kkind of information.

  2. Do you have any statistical numbers on how big the increase of the Chinese football market in RMB is? Or how much money is spent on football or on different sections of football in China?

    That would really be helpful, since I am doing a research on that topic….

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