FC, United, City, etc.: Chinese soccer’s major rebranding

Society & Culture

Guangzhou Evergrande will be known as Guangzhou FC starting next season, while crosstown rivals R&F have adopted the City moniker. All told, 58 Chinese soccer clubs will change their names from their corporate monikers.

Fifty-eight Chinese soccer clubs have requested to change their names from their corporate monikers.

Last month, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) ordered China’s professional teams to drop their corporate owners’ names from their titles in favor of “neutral,” generic soccer names, such as FC, United, City, etc. The move was announced as part of a series of new measures introduced to safeguard soccer’s financial health in China.

The new directive sparked a wave of protests as rival fan groups united in opposing the decision. A joint statement made by the fan groups of Beijing Guoan, Shanghai Shenhua, Henan Jianye, Zhejiang Greentown and Tianjin TEDA condemned the “one size fits all” policy to the rebranding, remarking that some clubs have had the corporate names since the advent of professionalism in the country.

However, these statements largely fell on deaf ears, and now China’s clubs are in the midst of an extensive rebranding effort.

According to Xinhua, over 80 percent of the applications have been approved by the CFA, with even some of the most prominent clubs unable to avoid the changes. For example, Guangzhou Evergrande will be known as Guangzhou FC starting next season, while crosstown rivals R&F have adopted the City moniker.

Big-spending Shanghai SIPG (Shanghai International Port Group) has switched to the simplified Shanghai Port FC.

Beijing Guoan, on the other hand, has dug in their heals. Officially Beijing Sinobo Guoan, the club is understood to be fighting with the CFA behind the scenes to save the Guoan brand, a name that has been with the club for more than 20 years. Shanghai Shenhua received a similar reprieve from the CFA over the Shenhua name.

Clubs that do not change their names have been threatened with expulsion or relegation if they do not rebrand in time for the season’s start.


Yan Bingtao wins historic Masters title in snooker

China’s snooker wunderkind Yán Bǐngtāo 颜丙涛 has been crowned Masters Champion after a stunning comeback against snooker icon John Higgins to become the youngest winner of the “Triple Crown” tournament in the last 26 years.

The 20-year-old was making his debut in the tournament, which is reserved for the world’s top 16 players.

Yan found himself trailing for the majority of the game, with two-time winner Higgins jumping out to an early lead. But while trailing 7-5, Yan played some near-perfect snooker to tie the game up at 8 apiece. From there, the Chinese star couldn’t miss, taking the final two frames to win 10-8.

“I am very excited. I have imagined how I would celebrate but I am very calm, even though in the last few frames I was not playing very well. But I did not give up,” Yan told the BBC after the match.

The 45-year-old Higgins was quick to pay respects to Yan in his post-match interview. “He was fantastic – he’s got such an incredible all-round game. I had my chances and I’m sick because I should have gone 6-3 in front and I was in control to go 8-5 in front. I’m gutted, but every credit to him — it is a brilliant achievement, winning it at such a young age.”

Yan’s historic victory comes months after Ding Junhui’s stinging criticism of young Chinese players. In November, the 33-year-old told the BBC that he did not see many Chinese players following in his footsteps, accusing many of the young Chinese players of not working hard enough outside of the tournaments. https://www.bbc.com/sport/snooker/55023265


Chinese Grand Prix postponed for second year in a row

The Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed this year due to COVID travel restrictions, F1 confirmed.

China, which is the second stop on the F1 calendar, has followed the Australian Grand Prix in postponing its race. The Shangahi race was scheduled to be held on April 11.

“Due to the ongoing travel restrictions in place the 2021 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place on its planned date,” a statement from F1 read.

“Discussions with the promoter and authorities in China are ongoing with the potential to reschedule the race later in the season if possible.”

While the Australian Grand Prix has been rescheduled for November, the Shanghai race has yet to be given a new date, and has been left off the calendar.

The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.