Shanghai firm is latest Chinese investment in UK soccer business

Updated: 2016-03-17 21:44

By Cecily Liu(

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China's Shanghai XiaoYuan Culture Communication Co announced a 180,000 pound investment into British soccer company Freestyle Football Ltd on Thursday, marking the latest significant Chinese outbound football investment.

The investment follows a wave of Chinese firms buying stakes in western football companies and clubs. The most notable is Manchester City group's selling of a 13 percent stake to Chinese consortium of China Media Capital and Citic Capital in December 2015. The deals follow President Xi Jinping's ambition for China to become a footballing 'powerhouse' and create a domestic sports economy worth $850 billion by 2025.

Freestyle Football Ltd is the commercial arm of Freestyle Football Federation, the world governing body for the sport, registered in the UK as a non-profit organization. The investment by Shanghai XiaoYuan Culture Communication for a 10 percent stake in the company, which values the business at 1.8 million pounds.

Freestyle Football is a mixture of choreographed routines to music, with a football as the sporting element, with players copmpeting head to head in a series of 3-minute knockout battles with judges scoring them on Originality, Execution and Technical Difficulty.

Freestyle Football Ltd's CEO Dan Wood said that Xiaoyuan is a perfect match for his company because of their commitment and enthusiasm for the roles education and sport play in the lives of young people around the world.

"They have a number of useful resources that will also help us to grow freestyle football across their vast home country of China, which is very exciting for the future of the sport. This investment will enable us to build a sustainable future for freestyle football," Wood said.

Shanghai XiaoYuan Culture Communication owns schools across China, Australia and Cambodia. In January Shanghai XiaoYuan Culture Communication reached an agreement with the Freestyle Football Federation to introduce an educational program about freestyle soccer to promote the sport in countries like China, Australia and Cambodia. In addition, Shanghai Xiaoyuan will organize training sessions for sports teachers in some local schools.

As a market, China is investing significantly in the sport of football and related platforms, with the government and leading organizations working in tandem to ignite a thriving industry.

This October, Shanghai will play host to the second stage of the Freestyle Football World Championship Tour 2016. The event will see the top 16 global Freestylers showcasing their skills to a panel of judges, with the aim of gaining the most points ahead of the final event in Melbourne.

In 2014, 154 million people tuned in live to Chinese TV networks to watch the Freestyle Football Beijing World Tour event.

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