Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Profits drive soccer gambling scandal


Several football clubs have been involved in gambling scandals, as a nationwide campaign continues to crack down on these type and match-fixing crimes. People may wonder why so many players and club managers choose to walk down this road? Let's look at a soccer team in the coastal city of Qingdao, and explore the reasons why.

Football fans in Qingdao were once proud of having two professional teams in the Chinese football league. But the two teams now have different destinies.

Qingdao Hailifeng football club is under police investigation. Its managers and players are suspected of manipulating match results for gambling.

Qingdao Zhongneng football club is not feeling the impact from Hailifeng. But its manager points out the problem that could have played a key role in dragging Hailifeng down.

Yu Tao said, football club in China makes little profit. Despite having some social impact, it's hard to transfer it into real profits."

As one of the most popular games in the country, football teams spend a lot of money, but that doesn't always translate into big profits. To afford players' and coaches' salaries as well as renting fields, that needs strong financial support. Football clubs depend heavily on companies for sponsorship.

Once the company cannot provide a sufficient financial commitment, the club may no longer guarantee payments to its coaches and players.

Mu Zhilei, coach of Qingdao Hailifeng Football Club, said, "We were in those conditions before. It's a public secret."

This is part of the reason for Qingdao Hailifeng's road for match-fixing and gambling. Other teams face the same problems.

Yu Tao, mamager of Qingdao Zhongneng Football Club,said, "We need to spend thirty to forty million yuan each year, but profits may only amount to three million yuan."

Yu Tao says a third of investment will go to player salaries, another third is spent on buying foreign players. Renting fields also costs hundreds of thousands of yuan, annually.

To avoid the same mistake as Hailifeng, Zhongneng can only depend on self-discipline.

Yu Tao said, "There is something that is not on the table regarding club incomes. What we should do is abandon bad customs on the pitch."

Apart from self-discipline, the Chinese football industry is learning from other countries in terms of profit-making. In Japan and Italy, TV broadcasting takes up the majority of club's income. But in China, a complete system for profit-making and balancing expenditures needs to be set up.