China will get its first professional rugby union competition as part of a $100 million investment in the currently low-profile sport by e-commerce giant Alibaba Nike Vapormax Flyknit Women's Violet Dust , the firm and World Rugby said Wednesday.
As well as professional men's and women's 15-a-side leagues, a national sevens program will be set up, the two said in separate statements. The money will be spent over 10 years.
But rugby has heavy handicaps to overcome in the world's most populous country.
Fewer than 80,000 Chinese play the sport and it is far less popular among spectators than football or basketball. Its Chinese name translates literally as "English-style olive ball."
World Rugby would not specify the size of the league, or when it would start.
The chief executive of Alibaba's sporting arm Alisports, Zhang Dazhong Nike VaporMax Moc Flyknit Women's Triple Black , said the game had "undoubted potential" to become a "mass-participation sport" in China.
The two bodies plan to cultivate one million new players through school programs and train 30,000 coaches and 15,000 match officials in the next five years, according to the statements.
"We will work tirelessly to promote the development of rugby in China," Zhang added.
China's national rugby captain Ma Chong welcomed the investment. "As an athlete, I finally see hope for this sport Nike Air VaporMax 2.0 Women's Hydrogen Blue White Blue ," he said.
Ma, 24, makes just over 3,000 yuan (less than $500) a month playing for the Shandong provincial side.
"To be honest, until now I haven't thought that I could support my family playing rugby. But with a professional league, I can actually make it a profession without burdening my family too much Nike Air VaporMax 2 Women's Gunsmoke Blue ," he said. "I really enjoy rugby, it brings me a joy that nothing else can."
But Xu Yaojun, president of amateur club Guangzhou Longhua, cautioned that funding was not enough to guarantee success.
"This investment is definitely good news," he said. "But money is only part of what is needed to develop the game, the whole social system in China Women's Nike Air Vapormax CS Tea Berry Bordeaux Tea Berry Silver , including the education system, all needs to be involved. We need patience in this."
The announcement comes after Alibaba unveiled a tie-up with World Rugby to increase the game's visibility through its Internet video platforms in April, when World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper said that China has ambitions to host the Rugby World Cup.
Gosper said in a statement on Wednesday that World Rugby's "strategic mission is to grow the global rugby family. China is central to that mission."
Many firms in China are investing in sports, anticipating a massive growth in leisure industries as China's economy rebalances toward consumption.
Rugby has increased its profile in Asia thanks to its inclusion in this year's Olympics and the upcoming 2019 World Cup in Japan, as well as the growing world sevens series.
ABUJA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- The Nigerian government on Friday said it aims to launch "cultural diplomacy" with the South African government to end incessant xenophobic attacks on citizens of the west African nation in that country.
Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed in a meeting with the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria Vapormax x Nike Air Max 97 KPU TPU Women's Pink White , Lulu Mnguni, said cultural diplomacy was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari's recommendations for people-to-people relations between both countries in ending xenophobia.
He described Nigeria and South Africa as "two brotherly nations," noting, in spite of occasional disagreements, both had enjoyed long-standing relations.
More than 100 citizens of Nigeria had been killed or injured in xenophobic attacks across South Africa since 2013, according to the Nigerian government.
The government spokesman said cultural diplomacy was an effective tool that would end xenophobia and strengthen the understanding between the two countries.
Among programs lined up to strengthen the cultural diplomacy Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit Moc Women's Dark Stucco Clay Green , Mohammed said, include joint musical concerts and co-production of films.
"The activities would kick-off in the weeks ahead and would not be a one-off event," he added.
The South African envoy, while acknowledging the efforts of the Nigerian government toward the peaceful solution to xenophobic attacks, said there was need to deploy programs that would educate the people on the time-tested relations between both countries.
"We believe that using culture, music Nike Air VaporMax Plus Women's Green White , poetry and many other forms of cultural relations will help to strengthen our cohesion," he said.
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