Shanghai Daily Feature – Professional American Football League to kick off in China
- Updated: August 31, 2016
Source: Xinhua | August 30, 2016, Tuesday | ONLINE EDITION
Administered by the Chinese Rugby Football Association (CRFA), the new China Arena Football League (CAFL) will have its debut in the fall of 2016.
“This will be China’s first ever professional league of American-style football, played by the best players in the world,” David Niu, President of AFL Global, told Xinhua Monday.
The league will be composed of six teams located in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Dalian and Guangzhou.
Many of the rosters will feature Chinese players who have been training for the arena game at selected Chinese universities. The league will start as a mix of American and Chinese players with the intent to have the teams expanded to 22 clubs by its fifth year of operations.
Kicking off the first weekend in October in Beijing, each team and city will host a weekend of competitions and fan entertainment.
The league concludes with the playoffs and crowning of the first ever champion in Shanghai on the weekend of November 5. The championship weekend will be called “The China Bowl”.
The idea came from businessman Marty Judge, owner of the newly-crowned champions Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League in the United States.
Judge has teamed up with professional football experts including NFL’s Ron Jaworksi and Dick Vermeil to work out the league. Chief Executive Officer of the CAFL is Gary R. Morris, who is also president of the Judge Group.
They all believed that the founding of the league would benifit from good timing.
China has vowed to make the sports industry and related areas a new economic growth driver in the country.
“Powerful Chinese impresarios like Alibaba and Dalian Wanda are investing billions into sports and when that happens in our sport it will be a thriving business,” Morris said.
American football in China continues its rapid growth in fan base and viewership as well. In 2010, 1.6 million fans tuned into American football via TV and other media platforms. In 2014, the base has grown to 14.1 million fans.
With some 22 million people in China viewing the 2013 NFL Super Bowl, China presents an opportunity to become a profitable market for professional American football.
Also, according to TV media research, American football is now available to 1.2 billion people in China via national and local TV stations and new digital media platforms.
For more information, contact Lou Tilley at LTilley@Tilley.TV