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Football business in China – seen from the perspective of Mads Davidsen from Ebbe Sand Soccer Academy in Shanghai

China is an attractive market when it comes to football (soccer). In recent years, we have witnessed that the biggest global football brands chase unexploited territories in Asia and so have corporations (sponsors) striving to be associated with and to monetize on the game.

Reflections on the development, structure and economics of Chinese football will feature moving insights into a football market, which will continue to grow in the years to come. First-mover effects are in high demand among stakeholders of the football business in China.

Ebbe Sand, the former Danish international and top scorer from German powerhouse Schalke 04, established the Ebbe Sand Soccer Academy in Shanghai in 2012. The mission of the academy is “to explore, attract and motivate children to play football in Shanghai. Our aim is to be the best and give the talents the best football education in China.” To learn more about the academy and the business of football in China, take a look at the video below, which displays an phone interview with Mads Davidsen, who left Danish club Brøndby IF to manage the academy in China:

As Mads reveals in the interview, football in China faces many challenges but also holds great potential. There are certainly commercial benefits and sporting opportunities to pursue in Chinese football but ‘culture does not change overnight’ for what reason the football association in China must continue to improve everything linked to the development, structure and sustainable economics of the game. Regarding the financial side of Chinese football, money is available but the governing bodies must prioritize the most important focus areas to support. Ebbe Sand’s academy focuses on talent development and acts as a great example of drawing on brand equity in terms of the popularity of European football (Ebbe Sand’s great merits in the German Bundesliga) and the connotations of having a recognizable or well-known face to promote your product (very important in a relationship-focused economy like China). The story about the academy is also the story about a campaign with the ambitious vision of “being the destination of choic for the best soccer talents in China”. For that reason alone, it will be exciting to follow the academy in the years to come.


Ebbe Sand Soccer Academy – click the link.


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