John Yan: The Age of Tuhao 恒大是现象,还难称模式

All eyes were focused on the match, tagged as ‘The Fly to the Top of Asia’. Quite like the Party’s propoganda protocol, a bit like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…

On November 9 in Guangzhou, Evergrande were crowned the champions of Asia, grandly. Even though the official TV ratings figures didn’t prove this match attracted a dominant viewership nationally, go through any media outlet, the impression was on that night, nothing could compare to the club’s climb to the top of Asia.

Bayern and Ronaldinho, Beware! Chinese Tuhao are coming to party! And they will rock the world!

Apologies for introducing this word Tuhao without explanation – this is a new hot word coming out of social media in China. Tuhao used to mean the landlords whose land and assets had been confiscated by the Party after the revolution, nowadays, it means those dowdy loud over-night super rich Chinese, who normally travel with that golden symbol, the iphone5…

Just imagine Mike Ashley as a coal mine owner from Shanxi province. Guangzhou Evergrande is the latest representative of Tuhao. The second round of the Asian Champions League final did not meet the frenzy of anticipation beforehand, and went through in a very low key way. Marcelo Lippi, the Italian head coach, showed his calmness in controlling the team and had his players alert to the fierce counter attacking of their opponents, the admirable Seoul FC from South Korea.

It was not a beautiful final, but a 1:1 draw was good enough for Guangzhou to be champions after two rounds, with the first round 2:2. The Tuhao didn’t win the title by sweeping past the last opponent, however, it was still good enough for football supporters to enjoy themselves for a while.

Just a short while, though, as the national team is gathering again, and has two qualification matches in the Asian Cup. Not easy tasks, any team from Asia could be strong enemy for this national team.

The temporary head coach of the national team, Fu Bo, has made more funny comments in the media. He gathered all the Other international players, while they were training and waiting for the Other Grande China internationals in Xi’an, to watch the ACL final. The crowning of Evergrande would definitely be a boost for this national team, but to get the internationals to “learn and copy the great examples of Evergrande” would be some inappropriate statements from a head coach, even he was destined to be temporary.

In four short years time, Guangzhou Evergrande has evolved from a club being relegated to the second division, to one that is now the new Asian champions. The huge investment from Xu Jiayin, the owner of Evergrande real estate development company, is the major reason for the rise. The figure invested could be as much 2 billion RMB (about £220 million), and it has changed everything at the club, and possibly ever the outlook for China football.

XinWenLianbo, News Broadcast, the main news program of CCTV1, the tongue and throat of the Party, allocated more than 5 minutes in its 30 minutes program to do a preview of the final. This is only the second time that football jumped to the screen on that programme this year. Xu Jiayin will be living a dream now, as close to the status of a national hero as possible.

Overall, Evergrande’s success is widely regarded as the success of market power and a free economy. In contrast, the national team, still under the rigid and backward management of the CFA, a government branch, is still abysmal. Some media has been calling: ‘Let the Tuhao Save China Football’.

But as long as the CFA remains part of the Party organ, Tuhao will not find the right route to contribute to the national team.

John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com. Contact him at moc.l1635411289iamg@16354112898002g1635411289naiqn1635411289ay1635411289, or on weibo at: http://weibo.com/1646270104/profile?topnav=1&wvr=5

恒大是现象,还难称模式

在官方统计的上星频道节目收视率上,广州恒大的和首尔FC的亚冠联赛决赛第二回合比赛,并没能打败《快乐大本营》这样的老牌综艺节目,然而在11月9日这个夜晚,在城市人口范围内,不可能找到比恒大问鼎亚洲之巅更热门的新闻话题。

这是一场预热得有些疯狂的比赛,即便广州恒大连平对手的两场决赛,过程要比前期炒作平和得多。十二年前中国国家队首度进入世界杯决赛的时候,有过”八千足记卷平冈”的盛况,虽然真正的专业记者,在其中百分之五都不到。十二年后,这场广州之战,吸引的媒体关注,让许多时政财经娱乐时尚的媒体同行,都奔赴到了广州。媒体的重视程度,体现了足球在中国社会奇特的话语魅力。

广州恒大准备决战的同时,中国国家队也开始集结,准备在西安进行的两场比赛,关注度却如此时气温一样冰寒。很大程度上,对恒大的追捧,是社会公众长年失望中国足球国际竞技成绩的一种发泄——体制管理下的国家队丑闻败绩如山堆积,许家印这样一个基于市场化的民企老板,反倒在不到四年时间内,让自己的俱乐部实现了称霸亚洲的奇迹。体制掌握的优势,让大家形成了难以动摇的习惯认知,广州恒大的从体制外突围成功,能让球迷一吐积郁之气,也让人看到足球这项运动自由生长的蓬勃生气。

只是恒大还称不上已经形成了一种成功的足球发展模式,哪怕恒大在十一个月内修建了一所规模阔大的足球学校,和皇马基金会也达成了合作关系。恒大的成功,更是一种尽得天时地利人和的突变现象,而不是一种已然成型、值得同侪以及后来者模仿借鉴和复制的成熟模式。恒大在亚洲足球领域内的高速成功,占据了资本投入规模和人力资源汇集的两重资源优势:

资本投入上,过去四年,恒大在这个俱乐部以及相关领域,投入的资金据各种报道接近二十亿人民币,这是绝大多数中国职业足球的投资人,尤其国安鲁能这种国企难望其项背的,哪怕在更长时间范畴内,国企资本俱乐部的并不低;人力资源汇集上,世界冠军教练里皮,以及孔卡等南美球星,郑智等本土球星,都是在短时间内集合,并且很快打磨成团队。短时间内天文数字的投资、大量人才几中消化和转化,都不是简单模仿就能期待类似成就的。

然而会当凌绝顶,马上就会有高处不胜寒。恒大下一步怎么走?许家印从一个不了解足球的房地产商,通过运营足球,赢得名满天下,之后他将如何?恒大以及许家印的目标到底是什么?

不论是最初探讨的恒大品牌升级和转化,都已经实现。如今广州恒大是中国知名度最高的品牌,体量最大的房地产企业。许家印个人的政治地位也扶摇直上,局长书记省长市长为座上宾,都早是寻常事。决赛第二回合,恒大胸前赞助换标,”恒大冰泉”在这高光时刻凸显,配合在央视赛时期间的广告投入,恒大在品牌衍生上,应该又会有一个成功例证值得期待。只是红道白道齐头并进,所向披靡的气势,和球队在亚冠赛场气势堪当。风头急劲如此,未来想象空间似乎无穷之大。

唯独在足球这个恒大能成为恒大的本体上,登顶亚洲之后,恒大能做的已经不多了——国内赛场已经被恒大垄断,输一场球才是新闻,亚冠在手,一个月过后,还会有世俱杯,恒大可以去和拜仁慕尼黑以及罗纳尔迪尼奥的米内罗竞技扳扳手腕,只是四年时间,实现从假球降级,到雄视亚洲的云霄飞车之旅,壮怀激烈之余,未来该做些什么?还能做些什么?

一个品牌在经历过疯狂高速增长之后,势必会有一段相对平淡的积淀期,底蕴正是通过这种积蕴方能形成。恒大成功,给中国足球壮气,却还不是中国足球的成功。恒大现象,由足球开始,今后延展,则未必紧扣足球,要形成推广皆准的足球成功模式,一个四年远远不够。