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Jiangsu Suning's Ji Xiang (right) fights for the ball with Guangzhou Evergrande's Yang Liyu during last year's Chinese Super League final.   © AFP/Jiji
Business Spotlight

Chinese soccer plunges deeper into crisis

Sport already failing to deliver on global ambitions hit by property sector slowdown

JOHN DUERDEN, Contributing writer | China

SEOUL -- In April 2020, Chinese property giant Evergrande broke ground on a $1.8 billion, 100,000-capacity state-of-the-art soccer stadium in Guangzhou. Chairman Xu Jiayin told reporters that the Evergrande Football Stadium would become "a world-class new landmark comparable to the Sydney Opera House and Dubai Burj Khalifa, and it is also an important symbol of Chinese football going global." The arena has yet to achieve the first objective and is a perfect metaphor for the failure of China to achieve the second.

According to Beijing newspaper Global Times last month, the half-finished stadium and the land it sits on has been seized by the local government and will be auctioned. Evergrande owes over $300 billion and is the biggest but not the only Chinese real estate company in dire straits. The government has moved to crack down on the formerly red-hot property sector, with President Xi Jinping telling the Communist Party congress in 2017 that "housing is for living in and not for speculation."

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