HONG KONG, May 22 (Reuters) - Chinese insurance giant Ping An has extended its title sponsorship of the Chinese Super League with the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announcing a five-year, 1 billion renminbi deal with the company on Monday.
Ping An have been the league’s title sponsor since 2014 and CFA general secretary Zhang Jian said the current interest in Chinese football would ensure companies continue to see money spent on the game as a worthwhile investment.
“Under the General Plan of Chinese Football Reformation and Development, the mid-term and long-term plan of Chinese football, Ping An has been consistently investing in Chinese football,” Zhang told a news conference.
“It has sponsored the CSL, Team China and also youth football development. Ping An has become a representative of Chinese companies supporting Chinese football,” he said.
“Right now the CSL is on the rise, so are TV ratings and the competition level. All of these have provided an increase in the CSL’s brand value, and it is a great payoff for the CSL’s partners.”
Chinese football has undergone significant growth since Chinese President Xi Jinping, an avid football fan, spoke of his “three wishes” for China - to qualify for another World Cup since their first and only appearance at the 2002 finals, to host a World Cup, and to eventually win one.
The country is in the midst of a football boom. Chinese Super League clubs are spending huge sums to lure overseas coaches and players. Shanghai SIPG broke the Asian transfer record in the winter to sign Oscar from Chelsea for $60 million.
Ping An said their investment in Chinese football was part of the company’s social responsibility programme as China seeks to boost the health and fitness of its population.
“We believe social responsibility is crucial to the development of a company, and vice-versa,” Ping An chairman Sun Jianyi said.
“On the eve of Ping An’s 29th anniversary, together with the CFA, we are extending our partnership to another five years at the price of RMB1 billion, in order to realise our social responsibility and continue our commitment to Chinese football and Chinese sport. I believe today is a historic day.” (Reporting by Michael Church; editing by Mark Heinrich; )