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AFL Shanghai sellout part of wider sporting diplomacy

May 16, 2018
Sport /

The Port Adelaide Power and Gold Coast Suns’ return to China for their round nine AFL Premiership clash between at Shanghai’s Jiangwan Stadium this weekend is not only a sellout at the increased capacity venue but is also part of wider diplomatic moves.

Around 5,000 Australian fans are travelling to Shanghai for the 19th May match with organiser saying 3,000 corporate guests and around 4,000 locals attending the match.

This year, around 50% of tickets in the 12,000 capacity venue have been sold to the locals, a significant increase on last year.

The stadium turf has been given the all-clear with the surface graded as AFL standard, while the arena itself has undergone a transformation in the last 12 months, with custom built change rooms in place behind the interchange benches.

Off the field, since April 2016, 37 Chinese businesses have become partners of Port Adelaide generating more than $15 million in revenue for the club.

Port Adelaide Chief Executive Keith Thomas told the Australian Financial Review the club has further plans to tap into the China market and build networks for Australian businesses wanting to get into China.

Thomas advised “what started off as a special project in the club has become a part of our core operations.

“5 million people viewed the Shanghai match last year. That is expected to increase to 9 million this year.”

While even sport loving Chinese view the AFL as a curiosity, Australian Trade and Tourism Minister Steve Ciobo will be using the fixture in a form of ‘sporting diplomacy’ with his visit to be the first by an Australian minister China in eight months.

Minister Ciobo's visit appears to end an unofficial freeze on Australian ministers being invited to China after a difficult period which has seen tough rhetoric, a political resignation and claims of racism over Australian concerns about Chinese interference.

His visit will be the first by an Australian minister to visit China in eight months.

Ahead of the trip, Minister Ciobo stated “our trade and investment relationship with China is strong, and yes there are areas where Australia and China have some differences.

"But let's not make the mistake of thinking the differences overshadow the many strong benefits of the relationship".

13th March 2018 - HAWTHORN PRESIDENT JEFF KENNETT SLAMS AFL’S INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION PLANS 

4th October 2017 - JEFF KENNETT RETURNS TO HAWTHORN FC PRESIDENCY 

4th June 2017 - HG SPORTS TURF EXPLAINS PLAYING SURFACE TRANSFORMATION FOR AFL PREMIERSHIP’S CHINA DEBUT 

12th May 2017 - AFL SECURES LAST-MINUTE CHINESE BROADCAST DEAL FOR SHANGHAI GAME

5th May 2017 - AFL LOOKS TO ESPORTS TO ENGAGE WITH NEW AUDIENCES 

28th November 2016 - CHINA’S PLAN TO MASSIVELY EXPAND ITS SPORTS INDUSTRY  

21st June 2016 - CHINESE PROFESSIONAL SPORTS MARKET TO REACH US$242 BILLION BY 2025

1st March 2016 - AFL REVENUES TOPPED $500 MILLION IN 2015 

26th June 2015 - SPORT AT THE HEART OF AUSTRALIAN ‘SOFT DIPLOMACY’

8th November 2012 - NEW UNIT TO PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF AUSTRALIA SPORT  


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