China’s richest man strikes deal to host new global football tournament

21 July 2016. Published by Joshua Charalambous, Partner

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Dalian Wanda Group planned to create a European club tournament to rival the UEFA Champions League.

Last week it was announced that the Group, a conglomerate run by Wang Jianlin (China’s richest man), has struck a deal to host an international football tournament in China next year.


The Dalian Wanda Group is reinforcing its reputation as a significant player in sports investment.  It acquired the Ironman Triathlon for a reported $650m in August, owns a 20% stake in Atletico Madrid, and is the first Chinese top-tier FIFA partner. It has also been announced that the Group will be the FIBA’s exclusive partner for the sale and marketing of sponsorship and licensing rights for some of the basketball governing body’s main events.  


Dubbed the China Cup, the new international tournament will take place annually in Nanning starting in January 2017.  It will initially involve four international teams (including China) before expanding in subsequent years.  The tournament has been approved by FIFA, the Chinese Football Association and the Asian Football Confederation.


The sports division of the Dalian Wanda Group will own the IP rights for the China Cup, and no doubt it will attract a plethora of potential sponsors and partners.  It has been reported that the Group has been liaising with over 100 stakeholders in order to develop the proposal, in a move that adds yet another layer to China’s emergence as a football powerhouse.

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