Soccerex China 2019: Notes from Day 2

Soccerex China 2019: Notes from Day 2
Day 2 of Soccerex China 2019 kicked off with high-level discussions talking about Mastering China’s Digital Landscape and the Digital Transformation of Football. Expert speakers delivered their messages and insights from world-renowned brands and organisations including adidas, ByteDance, AS Roma,, EA Sports, and City Football Group.

Key Highlights:

Mastering China’s Digital Landscape

The morning session included a series of interviews and discussions showcasing successful case studies, exploring what is required to master China’s digital terrain and how best to utilise the tools available to connect with Chinese fans.

Dr Erkut Sögüt LL.M., Football Agent Education, Agent - Mesut Ozil

“We started communicating with Mesut Ozil’s fan clubs in China, sending them gifts, products etc. It was our first step to connect with his fans in China.”

“China is a great opportunity for football players”

Rio Li, ByteDance, Senior Manager of Sports Business Development

“We started in 2017 getting internationals brands and leagues on board. We define ourselves as a tech company.’

“Follower numbers are not that important. The algorithm is key and we can use it to recommend content.’

Paul Rogers, AS Roma, Head of Digital Media

“We achieved engagement not through money, because we don’t have as much as Arsenal, Manchester United etc. we set out to be different and original. We were quite brave.”

“We created our own voice, a more personal style of approach. When social media started is was about people, not brands. But when brands came on board they took it over.”

“We stopped looking at other clubs and started to look at Netflix, Wendy’s, Burger King, and so on - outside of football. All platforms have a different type of language, and we tapped into how people were communicating.

“Put yourself in the shoes of the fan and think fan-first”

“How do we help our audiences to make money, because if they make money, then we’ll make money. It adds value to the whole ecosystem, which maybe competitors aren’t doing.’

David Yang, adidas, Senior Manager - Assets Publishing

“We’ve launched a number of football players online in China, including the popular Paul Pogba. We saw his Weibo account grow to over 4 million in only a short time”

“We started operating profile accounts on social in China because we realised a number of our athletes weren’t active there.”


Esports & Football

There was an interesting session where experts from esports and football worlds will come together to look at the opportunities and threats within the burgeoning relationship between the two sports.

Edward Chang, EA Sports, Director of Business Strategy - Competitive Gaming Division

"We believe we can get more people into the game, and when we do they spend longer and spend more in the game. Our competitive players spend 7x more than the average FIFA player".

"Football is the world’s game and virtual football is on its way. By connecting the real world and digital football, we have the opportunity to provide a meaningful narrative to the next generation"

"Because of the game we've probably created a lot of real world football fans"

"I don’t think it really matters whether we call FIFA 'esports' or not"

"Esports is digital first. These fans are young. Many of them have never subscribed to linear television"

Scott Munn, City Football Group China, CEO

"Over 1/3 of US fans, their first engagement with football is with FIFA gaming"

“There’s a large part of the traditional football community who dont treat it (esports/FIFA) seriously”

Xuan Li, LGD Gaming, Chief Strategy Officer

"I try to play League of Legends every week"

“From an Esports perspective, there is a lot to learn from a (traditional) soccer team; especially how to commercialise it and give a better experience to the fans”


How to produce talent

In the afternoon, there was a mix of international and regional experts analysing the core components of a successful grassroots set up, how they can be implemented in China and how the different stakeholders involved can best deliver the necessary level of coach education to foster the talent needed to ensure China achieves its footballing aims.

Corné Groenendijk, AFC Ajax, Manager Ajax Coaching Academy

“We have 7 staff members working in China on a full-time basis.”

“We’re all in the same position, we all have to adapt. China has a very strong culture and a very strong country.”

“Our biggest struggle is to find talent at a young age, it’s the same all across the world.”

Marius Lorenz, Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Co-ordinator China

“We want to coach the local coaches so they can spread the BVB philosophy, but we also listen to their philosophy to find a balance.”

“The main part of the role is instant feedback. It’s not about copy and paste simple exercises, we need to adapt and react.”

Carlos Casal, LaLiga, Senior Specialist in Sport Projects Development

“We have many programmes with the CFA and ministry of educations. The approach we need to show is that football is very complex. There’s needs to be research and study”

“Football development is mostly based on the clubs. Its present in schools, but it happens mostly at club level in Spain. But in China, it needs to start in school to help the football development system.”

Jean-Pierre Papin, Former International, France

“Football is a privilege, and to play everyday is to have fun. You never know if you will succeed in the future so you need to enjoy it while you can.”

“Both football at school and at club are very important”


The Player’s Perspective

Football legends Juliano Belletti and Dario Conca wrapped up the event by speaking on a panel discussing Modern Football - The Players Perspective - discussing everything from the impact of social media and digital technologies on and off the pitch to tournament expansion to the the possibility of new competitions. It was the ideal way to end a fantastic 2 days in Hainan, China.

Juliano Belletti, Brazil, Former International

“I think a lot of players from Brazil are willing to come and play in China”

“China continues to learn from western football and we feel proud that we can help the global game. There’s always responsibilities, especially for the players who come to play in China.” 

“If you are a professional football player, you have to be very careful what you post online.”

Dario Conca, Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG, Former Player

“Chinese football has achieved great progress and the national team has good players. They are in the right direction. There’s no doubt China will become a strong football nation.”

“I was very happy to have played in China and to have witnessed the growth of Chinese football.”

“The experience I had in China was very important to my career.”

“I knew living in China wasn’t going to be easy. I looked forward to overcoming the challenges. The Chinese people were very hospitable and made me feel at home.“

It’s clear to see China remains an important and growing market for the sport of football. The China football ecosystem continues to mature as technology and infrastructure develops rapidly and more international experts offer and receive high-level collaborations and partnerships with their Chinese counterparts. We’re delighted to offer such a platform for the industry’s best and brightest to share experiences and thoughts on the future.

We’d like to thank all our partners, supporters, delegates, and media for making Soccerex China 2019 a success, and we can’t wait to return again next year. Thank You!

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