French football league Ligue 1 has signed Chinese former world sprint swimming champion Ning Zetao as a sporting ambassador.
Popular in China because of his sporting accomplishments as well as his looks, he won the 100m freestyle world title in 2015 and was a four-time gold medallist at the Asian Games.
He was presented at a press conference in Shenzhen last Friday with two other Ligue 1 ambassadors, former football stars Youri Djorkaeff and Edmilson.
“It is important to have a champion, an iconic character, who inspires young Chinese people and whose words are important to them,” said Nathalie Boy de la Tour, president of the French professional football league (LFP), according to L’Équipe.
“I hope I can inspire more youngsters to love sport and be interested in football. I also hope I can get more Chinese youngsters to pay attention to Ligue 1 matches, as well as the experiences of Ligue 1 in youth training,” Ning said.
In April 2018, the LFP sealed a broadcast rights deal with Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. The deal with CCTV, which will run through to the end of 2020-21, was agreed by the LFP and its international rights-holder beIN Media Group.
It also includes rights to the Coupe de la Ligue and Trophée des Champions, the annual contest between the Ligue 1 champion and the Coupe de France winner.
The Trophee des Champions, also known as the French Super Cup, has been staged in Shenzhen for the past two years.