Sticky Wickets, But What A Future

Opportunities for selling sports in Asia seem endless

For the organizers of China's new pro soccer league, almost everything was in order: There were 30,000 noisy fans and live television coverage. The Beijing players in green jerseys and shoes supplied by their sponsor, Nike, were raring to go against a Guangzhou team decked out in Reeboks. And there were a bunch of billboards bought by advertisers. But amid the signs for Sony, Olympus, and San Miguel beer were big, white gaps where the red-and-white Marlboro logos had been. Earlier this year, Beijing ruled that the ads may violate China's new ban on tobacco advertising. That forced Philip Morris Cos., which was paying an estimated $2 million annually as the league's chief sponsor, to pull out.

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