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Sports popularity grows, but lags behind globally

2014-07-03 09:14 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Wang Fan

Despite steady growth over recent years, China's sports industry remains behind equivalent businesses in world sporting powers such as the United States, said an annual report on sports industry development.

Inspired by achievements such as Guangzhou Evergrande's successful AFC Champions League campaign in 2013, public awareness of sports entertainment consumption has grown significantly over the years in China, greatly boosting the sports industry.

For example, sporting goods sales in China reached 79.7 billion yuan ($12.8 billion) in the first three quarters of 2013, a 10.6 percent year-on-year increase, and realized profits of 3.2 billion yuan, a 3.4 percent rise from 2012, according to the report released on Wednesday by the Social Sciences Academic Press and the Beijing Sports College.

However, the profit increase of China's sports industry has been slowing since 2010 due to a lack of professionalism in sports administration and marketing, observers said.

"Against the backdrop of the planned economy, the Chinese government has played a dominant role in sports administration and tournament operation, which negatively affected the enthusiasm of private investors and the introduction of a professional approach," said Eric Ho, executive director of Peking University's Research Institute for Sports Science.

China currently has 894 sporting goods manufacturers in operation, employing 267,446 people, but most of the major brands suffered a slump in business in 2013.

Anta, a renowned Chinese sporting goods brand, recorded net profits of 662 million yuan in the first half of 2013, a significant drop of 18.7 percent year-on-year. Another major brand Li-Ning also suffered a huge loss of 184 million during the same period, and closed 410 retail outlets across China.

Ho said the slump should be attributed to the underdevelopment of China's sports entertainment business, which contributes a lot in ticket sales, merchandizing and media rights sales in professional sport powerhouses such as the United States.

The sport governing body should streamline administration and delegate powers to lower levels, allowing the market to operate sports events and adjust the sports industry using professional models, Ho said.

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