China has recently embarked upon a process which the country’s leaders hope will result in its male national team winning the World Cup by 2050. Following the initial announcement of this football vision by President Xi Jinping in November 2014, the Chinese government and businesses have subsequently engaged in a broad range of activities designed to realise the country’s goals. These activities have ranged from acquiring football clubs (for example, Italian club Inter Milan) to investing in service organisations (for example, Infront Sports and Media) and securing the rights to major sponsorships (for example, Wanda’s deal with FIFA). The activities have nevertheless resulted in the emergence of several challenges to existing systems of governance both in Chinese football and, more significantly, in football elsewhere in the world. This chapter examines recent developments in Chinese football, and analyses the governance challenges they are posing.
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