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Gianluca Vialli “I really really hope that China will be capable of competing with the best in the world.”

Gianluca Vialli shares his views on Chinese soccer in Hong Kong

As interest in Chinese soccer grows, the number of business opportunities developing in the world’s most popular game in potentially one of the biggest sporting markets in the world, has also grown exponentially. The inflow and outflow of financial capital has been breathtaking and new monied Chinese entrepreneurs are also getting in on the act with clubs such as AC Milan and Inter Milan coming under Chinese ownership. At the RISE Forum in Hong Kong, Gianluca Vialli, Italian football legend who now helps run the sports crowd funding organization, Tifosy, discussed the game in China in-front of a packed forum audience.

Vialli, shared his views of Chinese owners of overseas football teams and how to bridge the cultural gaps which may be an obstacle to progress.

“The most important point is that you (China) have a very successful Italian manager who has come to China to coach the national team like my friend, Marcello Lippi did and is doing right now. You have many power Chinese people who want to buy a football club and when you do that, you need to adapt and you need to have the ability, because what works in Italy might not work in China and vice versa so new owners need to understand what works and what doesn’t work and then just adapt to the new challenge.”

“Something else that is very important, for example in Italy or England, is that you have Chinese people who want to buy (football teams); is that we need to welcome them and create a structure and organization which allows them (Chinese owners) to know straight away what needs to be done and not leave them by themselves otherwise the process might last a long time. If there is something which helps them then I think it will be easier for them (Chinese club owners) to be successful.”

Vialli also went onto discuss the importance of building the right team culture; a concept which can be applied to all evolving and developing organizations.

“Seventy percent of the manger’s job is done in the summer with the transfer market. You need to go out there and sign the right players to create the right team to create the right spirit. First of all, you need to surround yourself with players who share the same values, same principles and who want to play for each other; they want to score goals, not because they want to be the top scorer but because they want the team to win. You want to sign people that are committed to the goal but mainly committed to the journey. So that is the first thing, commitment.”

“Secondly, you need to use players whose skills are complimentary. So you a hard working player and you need a think and a doer so you need to have complimentary skills who put together will create the perfect balance.”

Gianluca Vialli and Fausto Zanetton discuss Chinese football and sports opportunities at the RISE Conference.

“Thirdly, you have to have players who are happy to share mutual responsibilities. Responsibility is mutual so I think people need to realise that no one can whistle a symphony as it takes a whole orchestra to play. So you want players who are happy to play in a team environment. Football clubs work really really hard to create an environment and create the right culture as culture can be very very effective. If the culture is right then the correct people will want to work for you.”

Vialli also speculated on China’s chances of qualifying for a world cup in the near future and hoped they would be able to field a competitive team soon.

“I dont think China will be at the next world cup unfortunately as I know it is unlikely they will be likely to qualify. By 2022 in Qatar, I am sure they will be there especially if Marcello Lippi will still be the coach because Italians do it better as you know. By 2026, I am sure China wants to organize the world cup so it will be 2026 and 2030 and it will happen and by then, I really really hope that China will be capable of competing with the best in the world.”

Christopher KL Lau was born in England and grew up in both England and Hong Kong, and has a background in media, education and non-profits. He also is a freelance writer / photographer and has written for a number of magazines, websites and newspapers around the world on many subjects ranging from the arts to travel. Chris is passionate about sports and its place in society and is keen to promote both Hong Kong and Chinese football to a wider audience.

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