Greetings, I am back from my trips to Canada, China, and San Diego. I have to apologize for not posting more during the trip, but I have brought back some interesting photos, discussion, and topics with me.
Today is focused on Dario Conca, an Argentinian footballer, who has never made an appearance for Argentina’s National side. Despite this, last week he became the third highest paid professional footballer in the world, when you consider just salary. My first thought when I got to #3 on the list of highest football salaries was: “WHO?” Digging some more, it would seem that Dario Conca had a pretty good run in the Copa Libertadores, and done well for the Brasilian club Fluminense. Outside of that, he seemed to be a decent South American player who had a decent shot of playing in Europe.
That was before Guangzhou Evergrande of the Chinese Super League (CSL) stepped in and offered Dario a salary that would make him the highest paid football players not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. As my mind started to wrap around the details, I was surprised even more when I found Dario is by no means a “young” or “developing” talent, and that he is actually 28, which means he may be near or past him prime possibly. From my time in China, I do know that Guangzhou are at the top of the CSL table right now, seven points clear of Beijing Guoan, and that they are based in China’s third largest city of about 12 million people. I had never heard of Guangzhou before my trip to China, and rightfully so, as they were in the lower division of Chinese professional football last year.
So how did all of this happen? Well Guangzhou Evergrande, like many Asian sport teams, are owned and sponsored by Evergrande Real Estate Group, headed by Xu Jiayin. Xu Jiayin happens to come in at #200 on the Forbes richest people in the world list. So its rather simple actually, Evergrande has started to pump money into their side, and the results have been immediate, and in the year they have been promoted they are already the favorites to win the CSL championship, and qualify for the Asian Champions League competition (ACL) next year.
I don’t Dario Conca is worth it, but this may be a new sign of heavy spending coming from the Chinese professional sport market. It seems that many football clubs and basketball teams there are preparing to spend a good deal of money to improve the quality and play of their teams. Guangzhou’s success has been a big hit among locals, they are averaging around 50,000 fans in attendance at each match, and the wikipedia entry on them hint that they may overtake the Urawa Reds of the J-League as the best supported team in Asia. Quite a feat for a team that has just moved into the top tier of professional football in its country, but not as surprising when you consider the amount of financial backing which has been put in place to make the team a success.