Alibaba buys stake in Chinese soccer team — Guangzhou Evergrande

Global Business

Alibaba’s blockbuster IPO is just a few weeks away. And already, some say it could be the biggest IPO ever. China’s e-commerce giant has also been on a shopping spree– buying tech companies to boost its business. But its latest purchase has China’s biggest sports fans dreaming of a world-beating football team. CCTV’s Jin Yingqiao has more.

Alibaba buys stake in Chinese soccer team -- Guangzhou Evergrande

Alibaba buys stake in Chinese soccer team -- Guangzhou Evergrande

Alibaba's blockbuster IPO is just a few weeks away. And already, some say it could be the biggest IPO ever. China's e-commerce giant has also been on a shopping spree-- buying tech companies to boost its business. But its latest purchase has China's biggest sports fans dreaming of a world-beating football team. CCTV’s Jin Yingqiao has more
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Alibaba owns 50 percent stake of the team, worth 1.2 billion yuan.

Evergrande’s rise to the top of the Chinese Super league has left many dumbfounded.

Promoted to the Super League in 2011, the Guangzhou club won the title that very season before going on to dominate 2012 and 2013.

In 2013, the club claimed the Asian Football Confederation or AFC Champions League crown, becoming China’s first Asian champion since the country launched the professional league in 1994.

Evergrande boss Xu said it was the company’s “strategic decision” to introduce new capital to the club. The cooperation with Alibaba is the first step and he intends to bring in 20 more shareholders with 200 million yuan each.

Many say that Evergrande has contributed to Chinese soccer’s recovery after the sport was mired in corruption scandals and suffered dwindling viewership in the past decade.

Alibaba Group owns Taobao.com and Tmall.com, key on-line sales platforms which produced a stunning 35 billion yuan turnover on Singles’ Day, on November the 11th last year.

Alibaba tagged that date as China’s version of Cyber Monday.

The group also has the largest online third-party instant payment system Alipay.

Although Ma Yun believes the online technology and computing service will bring changes to the traditional sports industry, soccer fans have decided to leave technical details to the experts and focus on what they do care about instead.

Both Ma and Xu have promised not to interfere in coaching.

“My responsibility is to manage the club, not to replace the coach,” said Ma.

Internet users responded well to Ma’s latest move into soccer.

People say: “They join together to break the old system and give new life to Chinese soccer,” said a net user named SokerFan. “I believe the game is about to take a big step forward. They promise not to step in the locker room, which is wise.”