There is a going assumption among increasingly incredulous observers of globalized modern football that overseas investment in European football—like that in Qatar, the UAE, the USA—amount to nothing more than egomania on the part of deep-pocketed owners. After all, as has been pointed out by writers like Simon Kuper, football is not, on the whole, very profitable. It doesn’t produce much in terms of real value. Big clubs able to earn substantially more than they spend tend to be the exception, not the rule.
Which is why news that the China Railway Construction Corporation is financing construction of Inter Milan’s news stadium with a projected completion date of 2017 so interesting. China has taken quite an interest in Italian football, as the Italian Super Cup final is now regularly hosted in Beijing. Local fans were even keen to emulate the derby atmosphere (cheers to James Horncastle for the link).
Yet the CRCC is not your run-of-the-mill Asian business concern, but rather a state-owned construction business, the second largest in China. Large, state-run corporations after all don’t tend to be high on the list of football tycoons, for obvious reasons.
The Wall Street Journal’s Isabella Steger however reveals part of the answer:
But a move by one of China’s biggest railway and infrastructure builders signifies something more than just a vanity investment. It would be the country’s latest step as part of a concerted effort to win construction projects in the West, particularly in cash-strapped economies. But while Chinese companies have been active in building large construction projects such as railways and stadiums in the developing world, mostly in Africa, working in the West comes with extra regulatory obstacles that CRCC may want to be mindful of in Milan.
For example, another state-backed builder, China Railway Group Ltd., faltered in Poland when its international arm China Overseas Engineering Group Co. failed to finish building a highway in Poland nearly three years after the contract was awarded. One legal requirement that stumped Covec included passageways beneath highways to allow small animals to cross the road’s path safely, commonplace in Europe but alien to the Chinese builders.
The CCRC could be banking that a construction deal with Inter might lead to more long-term, lucrative overseas projects down the line. The point here is that perhaps the press might more keenly read between the lines of various overseas investment projects, rather than blithely assume any moneyed interest in football is merely a quid without a pro quo.
Canada excited and preparing for Great Britain in the quarter-finals.
Toronto FC cruises past Aguila in its CONCAF Champions League opener.
Andy O’Brien joins the Vancouver Whitecaps from Leeds United.
Luis Suarez just can’t stay out of the headlines. The Liverpool forward slams Great Britain supporters after Uruguay’s loss.
Arsene Wenger looking to complete an impressive double signing by the end of the week for Arsenal.
Andre Villa-Boas admits Luka Modric could start the season at White Hart Lane.
Eden Hazard is confident Chelsea can win more trophies under Roberto Di Matteo.
Newcastle continues its push for their main summer target.
Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson furious over Danny Kearns injury against Aston Villa.
Sienna accept plea bargain deal for its involvement in the betting scandal.
Juventus’ potential deal for Robin Van Persie depends on Antonio Conte’s future.
AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri refuses to retaliate against former player Gennaro Gattuso.
Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg poised for Tottenham switch.
Andrea Ranocchia called up for questioning on his alleged involvement in the betting scandal.
Vladimir Petkovic is changing Lazio’s traditional 4-4-2 formation.
Ivan Ramis set to join Wigan Athletic after West Ham United snub.
Wesley Sneijder’s agent claims he is not in talks with Real Madrid over a potential switch.
Bits and Bobs
Super Mario is at it again. Mario Balotelli accused of cheating on pregnant ex-girlfriend Raffaella Fico.
Andriy Shevchenko must stand for what is right to turn Ukraine around.
Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni scores a stunner in his return from injury.
It’s official. Roberto Carlos hangs up his boots, but is staying in Russia.
Thanks to Michael Tommasone for the links. He’s a Manchester United supporter, but mostly just a football fan. He no longer likes Owen Hargreaves or Carlos Tevez, that’s pretty straight forward. Graduate from the College of Sports Media with a broadcasting and journalism degree.