Serie A matches in China on agenda at state-level talks
Italian soccer's Serie A could stage regular-season matches in China, as part of a broader political tie-up between the two countries, it has emerged.
Italy is the first stop on Chinese president Xi Jinping's European tour, which begins today, and involves a meeting with Gabriele Gravina, president of the FIGC, the Italian soccer federation, and Gaetano Miccichè and Luigi De Siervo, respectively president and chief executive of Serie A, in Rome on Sunday.
According to a draft agreement seen by the Financial Times, the Italian top flight will seek to organise a game in China “in the next three years and with an adequate budget.”
Under the proposal, both national teams would also play exhibition games in the other country.
Serie A has staged the Supercoppa, the annual match between the winners of Serie A and the Coppa Italia, in Beijing and Shanghai in recent seasons, but playing a competitive game in China would require the approval of the Asian Football Confederation and Fifa.
It was in the face of strong opposition from Fifa, the RFEF, the Spanish national federation, and the country's players' union, that Spain's LaLiga dropped its controversial plan to stage a match between Girona and Barcelona in Miami, USA in January.
The China-Italy pact also calls for the FIGC to provide assistance to Chinese companies looking to invest in Serie A clubs despite Xi's clampdown on some Chinese investments overseas in 2017 following a period of staggering expenditure.
At present, Internazionale are majority-owned by Suning, the Chinese electronics retailer, while Jiang Lizhang's Desports, the Wuhan-based sports marketing agency, now owns 30 per cent of Parma, after shedding half of its shares late last year.
Xi's European tour delegation includes executives from China Media Group, the state-controlled entity that owns CCTV.
PPTV, the online streaming service owned by Suning, holds exclusive streaming rights to Serie A this season, while CCTV shows a handful of games on free-to-air TV.
The focus of discussions between CMG and Serie A officials will be to increase the league's media visibility in China, where, as Sportcal understands it, Serie A, unlike its European peers, has no presence on major platforms such as Weibo, the popular microblogging site.
Marco Bogarelli, a key figure in previous Serie A rights tenders, and the former president of Infront Italy, Serie A's international rights adviser, is understood to have been invited to the meeting.