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China Digest | LPGA confirms replacement for failed Alisports tournament 

Weekly round-up of sports business news from the Chinese sports industry.

LPGA confirms replacement for failed Alisports tournament 
The Ladies Professional Golf Association has confirmed details of its Shanghai tournament later this year, with the event set to take place from October 18-21 at the Qizhong Garden Golf Club. The Buick LPGA Shanghai – co-sanctioned by the China LPGA Tour and the China Golf Association – comes in the middle of seven consecutive tournaments in Asia this autumn. SAIC-GM, the joint venture between US car giant GM and Chinese auto firm SAIC Motor, has agreed to sponsor the tournament through its Buick brand for five years. The tournament will be run by IMG China and ends the ill-fated cooperation between the LPGA and Alisports, whose eponymous LPGA tournament in Shanghai last October was cancelled just weeks ahead of its debut.

SAIC Motor strikes Chinese Super League deal
SAIC Motor has also agreed a sponsorship deal with the Chinese Super League, the state-owned enterprise becoming a senior official partner. The terms of the deal, which will run to the end of the current season, include digital advertising around the pitches at CSL games, with the firm’s logo also appearing at press conference and post-game interviews. It replaces Changan Ford’s deal with the CSL, which ran from 2014 to 2017. SAIC has been China’s largest automaker for the past 13 years and in 2016 became the main sponsor of Shanghai SIPG, which finished second in the CSL last year.

Vivo lays out World Cup activations
Chinese smartphone brand Vivo has launched a campaign to enhance the fan experience at this summer’s Fifa World Cup. The “Vivo Super Fan Photographer” programme will give select fans pitch-side access during player warm-ups as part of the firm’s “My Time, My Fifa World Cup” campaign. Vivo, the official World Cup smartphone sponsor, will send 128 “photographers” – consisting of football fans, consumers, celebrities and social media influencers – to take pictures at World Cup games. Vivo will also host a series of music-themed activities throughout the tournament.

Chinese firms chase deals with World Cup teams and players
The past few weeks has seen a flood of partnerships between Chinese firms and World Cup teams and stars. As well as deals between Neymar and electronics brand TCL, Ronaldo and SUV maker Wey, and Thierry Henry and kitchen appliance manufacturer Vatti, the Argentine Football Association has scored a hat-trick of Chinese sponsors. The AFA signed regional sponsorship deals with Chinese interior design company Der, home appliances manufacturer Vanward and consumer lending company Hexin. Elswehere, second-hand goods trading platform Zhuanzhuan has become a strategic partner in China of the Brazilian national team.

Port Adelaide builds on China bridgehead
Aussie rules club Port Adelaide says it will use its foray into China to create opportunities for Australian businesses in China. The club has launched a business-to-consumer platform in partnership with Chinese real estate company Shanghai CRED, part of a five-year extension to the original three-year deal between the two entities that will now run until at least 2023. The CRED e-Shop aims to enable market access to small and medium-sized Australian companies looking to export premium products to China. Port Adelaide, which last weekend played its second annual regular season game in Shanghai, has launched a number of other initiatives in China, including the Power Footy schools program, which aims to enter 100 schools by 2020.

FIA grants Asian drivers quicker route to F1
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has announced it will grant the 2018 F3 Asian Champion 15 points toward qualification for an FIA Super Licence – the most points ever awarded to a series in Asia. Drivers need to accrue 40 points over a three-year period to qualify for a Super Licence, which allows the holder to compete in Formula One. The top eight drivers on the leaderboard at the end of the 2018 F3 Asian Championship season will all earn Super Licence points, with 12 points awarded to the second-placed driver and one point for eighth place. Organizers say they are expecting 24 cars from 10 teams from around the world for the series, which begins in July. Three rounds will be held in China, with an additional two rounds held in Malaysia, with each round consisting of three races. Confirmed sponsors for the series include Tatuus, Autotecnica Motori and Giti Tires.

IIHF gives China auto-entry to 2022 Olympic ice hockey 
The International Ice Hockey Federation has voted to allow China automatic entry to the men’s and women’s ice hockey tournaments at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. The vote was passed unanimously at the IIHF’s Annual Congress last week in Copenhagen. Since winning the right to host the Games, China has invested a huge amount in winter sports, with ice hockey leading the way. In the past two years, five new professional ice hockey teams from China have debuted in Russian and North American leagues. The men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament will feature 12 teams in 2022, while the IIHF, the IOC and the Beijing organizing committee have yet to decide whether or not to expand the women’s tournament from eight to ten teams.

Also this week
Hong Kong telco PCCW launches an OTT platform ahead of the Fifa World Cup.
Sports broadcaster Eleven retains its Premier League rights in Taiwan.
Formula E bumps Hong Kong from pole position on the season five calendar.
Adidas deepens its ties with the Chinese Ministry of Education for Bayern Munich’s youth training camp.

And some further reading
David Shoemaker recalls his highlights as he completes a seven-year stint at NBA China.
The Economist looks at the Chinese football club aiming to be the new Barcelona.
She’s gloving it: the Chinese goalkeeper who rejected the catwalk for football.
How China’s $32.5bn gaming market is driving mobile esports to new heights; meanwhile, e-sailing is now a thing.
The chief executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club calls on racing jurisdictions to take advantage of a brightening global economic outlook.

The China Digest is written by Mark Dreyer, who runs the China Sports Insider website, which features sports business news and analysis related to China’s fast-growing sports industry. He has worked for Sky Sports, Fox Sports, AP Sports and many others, and has covered major sporting events on five continents, including three Olympic Games. He has been based in China since 2007.

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