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Is Chinese Super League 'cash-rich fathead'?

(People's Daily Online)

14:04, February 28, 2013

David Beckham is expected to generate more headlines than his team's clash with Olympique Marseille as the former England captain will make his first appearance at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday. (

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The Chinese Super League (CSL) has hired Beckham as a promotional ambassador, which is originally a normal "business". But guess what? The foreign media fabricated the report saying CLS has spent "50 million euros for five years" as endorsement fees.

Why do the foreign media always have to imagine Chinese football as a "cash-rich fathead"?

Blundering report

Reasonably speaking, the endorsement fees of football stars are always confidential and generally not disclosed to the public. But Italy "Gazzetta dello Sport" reported that the total amount of this five-year contract is up to 50 million euros, and described it with a quote from a sports marketing expert that "regardless of the offer, the Chinese side will always consent so as to conclude the contract at all costs." The report was soon bombarded by Chinese fans.

The anger of the fans is not without reason. Beckham does not have to play for CSL nor does he have to reside in China but only to authorize CSL to use his image and to participate in some promotion and publicity activities. If one can earn 10 million Euros through such superficial commercial activities, it is indeed "intolerable", knowing that Lionel Andrés Messi, the number one player in the world just renewed his contract with FC Barcelona at a mere annual salary of 16 million euros.

Simple truth

50 million Euros for five year is indeed staggering, especially after domestic media reported that the little players of Xinjiang National Games Team can only afford a train ticket without seat to return home, after which Chinese fans accused the Chinese Football Association for throwing money around.

Under pressure, the CSL which originally refused to disclose the details of the contract had to stand out and clarify the rumor. Relevant official of CSL said yesterday: "The endorsement fees of Beckham total about two million Euros, which is paid by the partner company of the International Management Group, so the Chinese Super League does not need to spend any money."

However, the official also admitted that they did not know any more details since the contract was not negotiated by them. As for the question what David Beckham will do for China football, CSL does not have any clear idea either. Relevant official of CSL put it this way: "The main purpose is to promote overseas copyright of the Super League; the image and ads of Beckham probably won't appear in the fields of domestic leagues."

Reputed due to "sudden riches"

How did such an "own goal" style report about the endorsement fees of Beckham turn up? Supposedly it is because the decline of European economy has led European football to the depth of cold winter, while on contrary, Chinese Super League realized growth, leaving a "sudden riches" impression in the Europe.

Actually it was Guangzhou Evergrande FC that first made the world think Chinese football is very rich. In August 2011, the Real Madrid striker, the striker of Argentine national team Gonzalo Higuain met his fellow townsman Darío Leonardo Concain before a warm-up match, and jokingly asked the latter, who was serving Evergrande at that time, how much he earned a year. Concain told him 7 million U.S. dollars, which shocked Higuain. The world class star, with fame and strength both far above Concain, only earned an annual salary of 4 million U.S. dollars at Real Madrid!

Wu Jingui, technical director of Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. said that the mistaken reports of the Italian media reports is understandable, "Since Marcello Lippi can get an annual salary of 10 million euros in Evergrande, David Beckham can naturally do the same – this is the train of thought in their guesswork reports."

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