China's Sports Enter "Jinjiang Era" as High-quality Sports Events Drive Industry Development

Over the past week, the 2023 FISU University World Cup Football has been an exciting event, and Jinjiang, the "City of Brands and Sports", has become a stage for 20 university men's and women's football teams from 16 countries across five continents to showcase their vitality and exchange cultures. As Mayor Wang Mingyuan said, "After four years, we gather in Jinjiang again to hold the second International University Sports Federation Football World Cup, taking football as a medium to enjoy this youthful date."

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During the 11-day tournament, the men's football team from Hohai University and the women's football team from Beijing Normal University, representing China, are striving for the highest honor in university football along with 18 other teams. Regardless of the outcome of the matches, everyone highly praises every aspect of the event. Liu Jing, captain of the Beijing Normal University (China) women's football team, who has been participating in professional leagues, gasped in admiration, "The stadiums here are really great!"

 

“Jinjiang Time”

Four years ago, a reporter from Football Weekly witnessed the University of the Republic of Uruguay and the University of Ottawa (Canada) lifting the championship trophies of the first World Cup of the World University Sports Federation for both men's and women's football at the Jinjiang Football Park. At that time, Jinjiang's outstanding ability to host the event left a deep impression on international federation officials, participating teams, media reporters, and football fans from all over the world. The concept of "promoting the city, stimulating production, and benefiting the people through sports" allowed Jinjiang to successfully host a splendid football feast.

 

Returning to Jinjiang, from the moment we walked out of the airport, we could feel the strong atmosphere of the tournament. The tournament logo was visible everywhere, and the warm and thoughtful staff allowed everyone who came to the competition area to fully experience the declaration of "Meeting in Beautiful Jinjiang, Sharing the Football Feast." At the press conference before the opening ceremony, Wang Mingyuan, Vice Chairman of the FISU University World Cup Football Organizing Committee, Secretary General and Mayor of Jinjiang Municipal People's Government, introduced the preparations for the 2nd University World Cup Football to the media in detail from "six aspects and four features".

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FISU acting president Leonz Eder said, “It gives me the great honor to meet you here in Jinjiang, China. Due to the pandemic, the 2nd edition of FISU University World Cup Football was postponed time and again. Together with the Organizing Committee, the difficulties and challenges were overcome and tournaments were made finally.

 

 

With the experience of hosting the tournament four years ago, the Organizing Committee of the FISU University World Cup Football in Jinjiang called the tournament an "upgraded product". Chen Maohe, the Secretary of the Party Group of the Jinjiang Sports Bureau and the Minister of the Organizing Committee's Comprehensive Department, stated that in order to prepare for this competition, the organizing committee has developed more detailed plans in terms of venue maintenance, personnel reception, and logistical support. From the use of the soccer field turf to diplomatic etiquette, the flawless presentation in front of guests from all walks of life is actually the result of the meticulous work of the organizing committee staff.

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Taking the most important competition venues of the tournament as an example, a total of six competition venues and one alternate competition venue have been selected for this tournament, synchronized with six venues for training, all of which were put into use in the previous tournament. In order to provide the best viewing experience for participating teams and on-site spectators, the organizing committee has upgraded all the competition stadiums, including venue renovation, seat installation, and functional room transformation. Minister Chen said, "We hired an expert team to maintain the venues to ensure compliance with international standards and competition requirements."

 

In addition to the competition, another important task of the organizing committee is to promote ethnic culture and the unique features of Jinjiang. At the opening ceremony of this event, performances such as Dragon and Lion Dance, Gaojia opera, and puppet shows were showcased, causing foreign spectators in the stands to raise their phones and capture the scene full of Chinese characteristics and the charm of southern Fujian to take back to their own countries. Furthermore, the organizing committee plans to organize athletes and coaches to visit special attractions such as Jinjiang Wudianshi Traditional Blocks and Wulin Ancient Village on rest days of the event.

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Mayor Wang Mingyuan extended an invitation to all attendees, expressing his sincere hope that everyone would take the opportunity to explore and experience the sports vitality, cultural charm, and development momentum of Jinjiang. He encouraged them to show support, cheer on and inspire Jinjiang.

 

City of Sports

Under the leadership of "Jinjiang Experience", Jinjiang insists on sports industry empowering city development, making this "city that only wins when it works hard" full of vitality. It is understood that while Jinjiang continues to host sports events such as the CBA League, it also arranged the NEST National Electronic Sports Tournament, WCBA League, and Chinese Super League, the top three domestic-level events in 2022. Chen Maohe said that Jinjiang hosted 34 events above the provincial level this year. It is expected to reach about 40 by the end of the year. “Our goal is to have a provincial-level and above sports event every week.”

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Last year, the Chinese Super League resumed home and away matches. However, due to objective factors, some of the Chinese Super League clubs were unable to play at home. At the end of the season, some regions were unable to meet the conditions for hosting matches in winter. The CFA set Jinjiang as the match zone for the 2022 season after investigation, and arranged the three matches between Guangzhou City against Beijing Guoan, Henan against Wuhan Yangtze River, and Shenzhen against Guangzhou to be held at Jinjiang Football Park and Jinjiang City Sports Center.

 

According to the Chinese Football Association staff, they mentioned in a media interview that Jinjiang City has well-equipped sports infrastructure and excellent football training and competition venues. The facilities, reception services, and epidemic prevention measures all meet the mandatory standards for hosting the Chinese Super League matches. On November 21st, in the 26th round of the 2022 Chinese Super League, Beijing Guoan and Guangzhou City teams staged a game at the Jinjiang Football Park, marking the return of top domestic football league to Fujian after a 15-year gap.

 

According to Xu Zizhu, director of Jinjiang Sports Bureau, the Jinjiang Football Training Center is one of the few professional football stadiums in the country. "Before that, Jinjiang, a county-level city, had built 17 natural grass football fields. Jinjiang City has always had a good sports atmosphere, and the whole city is actively striving to build a sports city."

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Jinjiang has invested nearly 4 billion yuan in recent years to build, renovate and upgrade a number of high-specification stadiums, taking the opportunity of hosting major events. In addition to the Jinjiang Football Park and Jinjiang Sports Center, which is hosting 2023 FISU University World Cup Football, a brand new Olympic Sports Center is currently under construction.

 

In recent years, Jinjiang has incorporated the development of branded sports events into the construction of a sports city. It has successfully hosted more than ten international and national events, including Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour, World Series of Boxing Finals, and Jinjiang Marathon. The Fuzhou “VBA” (series of basketball matches in villages with local characteristics), which has attracted attention on online platforms, has been reported by more than 20 mainstream media outlets including CCTV, with a total online reading volume of over 100 million. The on-site attendance exceeds 40,000 per day. By integrating the events with traditional culture and tourism recommendations, “VBA” has effectively promoted the integration of sports, culture, and tourism development.

 

With the collective efforts of all parties, Jinjiang has been successively recognized as the "National Sports Industry Base" and the "National High-level Sports Reserve Talents Base". It has also been selected as a publicized list of "National Key High-level Sports Reserve Talents Base", becoming the only city in Fujian Province to be honored as a national model city for sports and fitness. Zhang Wenxian, member of the Quanzhou Municipal Party Committee and Secretary of the Jinjiang Municipal Party Committee, expressed that the development of sports will be given a more prominent position, and efforts will be made to provide better competition environment and living conditions, showcasing the excellent image of a sports city.

 

Industry Empowerment

In 2023 FISU University World Cup Football, the sports brand Kelme, after the first tournament, once again become a tournament partner, for all staff, tournament officials, participating teams to provide match equipment. Four years ago, Ke Yongxiang, General Manager of Kelme (China) Co., Ltd. said at the the event press conference, "We followed the trend, seized the opportunity, and made a decisive layout in the field of school soccer. We, as a sports equipment brand, want to provide the youth group with sports equipment that is not inferior to or even better than that of adults, and in the process of sponsoring the tournament will also promote our understanding of the user and continuously improve the quality of our products."

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In recent years, the sports industry in Jinjiang has experienced significant development. The leading companies, such as Anta, 361°, Shua, and Kelme, have played a crucial role in driving the industry's transformation and upgrading, guiding enterprises to increase R&D and innovation, which demonstrates the city's determination to push forward the development of the industry. According to Minister Chen, by 2021, the scale of the sports industry in Jinjiang has exceeded 250 billion yuan, with a total of 16,000 sports-related companies. Chen Maohe expressed his confidence by stating, " The scale of our sports industry is undoubtedly the highest in the country."

 

At the recent Hangzhou Asian Games, brands such as Anta, 361°, Jiu Muhwang (JOEONE), and Pan Pan provided comprehensive support for the event in terms of clothing, food and other aspects. Anta has sponsored various sports events such as the Chinese Olympic Committee, the Winter Olympics, and the NBA. Chen Maohe said, "In 2007, Jinjiang had 22 national-level brands, and now through corporate acquisitions and collaborations, we have 34 internationally renowned brands."

 

Among the many brands in Jinjiang, it is undeniable that Kelme is with the closest connection to football. Since Kelme officially entered the Chinese football market in 2014, the company has rapidly established a presence in the football field, providing comprehensive support to various areas of Chinese football, including the China League One, China League Two, women's football and youth events. To this day, Kelme remains the most prominent sports brand in the domestic football industry.

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Kelme has now become one of the few sporting goods companies in the world that independently owns a complete supply chain. Minister Chen introduced, "Jinjiang sports industry is mainly based on shoes and apparel, with a complete production chain. We can achieve a perfect closed loop from raw materials, research and development, to production."

 

Chen Maohe told the reporter of Football Weekly, "International sports events like FISU University World Cup Football have enhanced the local sports atmosphere and further promoted the development of the entire sports industry. All the events we host will actively promote based on the characteristics of Jinjiang's sports industry."

 

Using football as a platform, with the successful hosting of the 2023 FISU University World Cup Football, Jinjiang will continue to bravely move forward on the path of sports industry development.