Dortmund takes shot at giant market for new fans

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-18 10:09

The German Bundesliga soccer giant Borussia Dortmund announced on Monday that it is looking to team up with Chinese companies and social organizations to expand its fan base and promote its brand in China.

The team is the latest top-tier European soccer club to seek its way into the Chinese market in the midst of China's ambitious plan to become a soccer power.

"As a sports club with a history of more than 100 years, we are now aiming to develop more market potential in China," Carsten Cramer, director of sales and marketing of Borussia Dortmund, said in Guangzhou, where the club will play against Italy's AC Milan in the International Champions Cup on Tuesday.

The German club signed a marketing agreement with Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo Inc, famous for its yellow bicycles, during its second trip to China. The team's colors are yellow and black.

"We are not looking for potential buyers or investors from China. Instead, we are making efforts to work with more partners to promote brands in China, which is a strategic potential market for us," said Cramer.

"Brand promotion and expansion of the fan base in China are considered priorities of future strategy."

Dortmund is part of a large sports club with more than 145,000 members, making it the second-largest club by membership in Germany.

The club has already opened an office in Shanghai, which will help run more local activities to increase its fan base in China. Building a joint soccer academy is a likely next step for it to strengthen its footprint in China in the near future, Cramer said.

Other major international soccer clubs that have already tapped into Chinese talent and markets include another major Bundesliga team, Bayern Munich, which announced plans to open a soccer training academy in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

The FC Bayern Football School Shenzhen is the German giant's second training base in China.

Spanish La Liga titan Barcelona launched a soccer academy in Haikou, capital of Hainan province, in February in cooperation with golf and tourism services provider Mission Hills Group.

"Collaboration with top overseas clubs, especially in terms of developing young players, will help to promote China's soccer training as the country strives to become a big player in the sport," said Xie Liang, a veteran soccer commentator with Radio Guangdong.

There will be 50,000 academies and soccer-focused schools built by 2025, according to China's soccer development plan.

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