Chengdu Blades chairman Tony Xu was in London last week to join Kevin McCabe, chairman of the Blades' parent club Sheffield United to announce a sponsorship deal for the 2008/9 Hong Kong FA Cup, which will now be known as the 'Sheffield United FA Cup'.
The Blades' reserve team - playing in Hong Kong under the name of Sheffield United Hong Kong - will face Sham Shui Po in the tournament's opening fixture on May 12. The Cup's final will be held at Hong Kong Stadium on May 31.
"It is a great honour for Sheffield United and Chengdu Blades to be invited to sponsor the Hong Kong FA Cup," Sheffield United's McCabe told reporters. "It demonstrates our commitment to supporting the growth of football in China and Hong Kong, whilst we continue to make the 'Blades' a global football proposition."
Sheffield United became the first foreign owners of a Chinese football club when it purchased the Chengdu Blades in January 2006.
The Hong Kong FA Cup was first held in 1975, when it was known as the Golden Jubilee Cup. The current cupholders are Citizen, who beat Woofoo Tai Po 2:0 in the HKFA Cup final, which raised funds for the Wenchuan earthquake, which had taken place six days earlier.
Tags: Chengdu, Chengdu Blades, football, Hong Kong, Kevin McCabe, London, Sheffield United, Sheffield United Hong Kong, soccer, sports, Tony Xu, Wenchuan earthquake
seriously affected athletic facilities in Sichuan, says Xinhua. Wenchuan's new complex at Aba Normal Institute—including a gymnasium, a swimming pool and a stadium—have been destroyed. A 3,000-seat gymnasium in Jiangyou city has also been leveled. In the Chengdu area, the Zhang Shan Training Center and the Land Sports Training School have been designated "hazardous buildings."
Sichuan–based athletes on both Olympic and provincial teams are now being relocated to other parts of China. Track and field athletes will stay in Beijing after this weekend's Good Luck Beijing test event; gymnasts and wushu athletes will train in Guangxi; provincial wrestling, swimming, diving and women's soccer teams are headed to Shandong; some volleyball teams are headed to Yunnan. Shanghai and Guizhou will be the training sites for the synchronized swim team and Guizhou will take table tennis players.
While no specific reports have come in, it seems inevitable that many athletes have lost loved ones and/or seen major damage to their family homes.
Tags: Sichuan, Wenchuan earthquake
Many sporting events were cancelled or postponed as well, including an Asian Football Club Champions League match between China's Changchun Yatai and Australia's Adelaide United FC. When play resumes in the gymnasiums and stadiums around China, hopefully sports can play the cathartic role that it has after major disasters in other countries.
The sporting world continues to pitch in on relief efforts in a variety of ways. Chengdu Stadium is serving as a temporary home for thousands displaced by the disaster. And some of China's past Olympians recently visited hard-hit areas in Sichuan, offering encouragement and relief goods to victims. Four-time Olympic gold medal-winning table tennis player Deng Yaping was among the group, and said to the AP, "Sports is really a good way to forget about the wounds of tragedy." And Yao Ming filmed a public service announcement for the Red Cross (below) that is airing during the NBA Playoffs.
Athletes, sports organizations and sports-related businesses are joining the stream of financial assistance as well. Earlier this week, after coming in third in the Huangshan Cup Snooker All-Star Game, Ding Junhui donated his 150,000 yuan (20,000 USD) game bonus to the earthquake relief efforts.
"I learned from TV that people in the quake-hit areas suffered a lot. Many parents died and left behind their children. I hope they will soon get well," Ding said to Xinhua News. "I hope all children can live their future happily and healthily."
The Sichuan sports administration reported yesterday that none of China's Sichuan-based professional athletes were injured in the quake.
Tags: Asian Football Club Champions League, Deng Yaping, Ding Junhui, snooker, Wenchuan earthquake
The torch relay team is currently in a holding pattern in and around Shanghai. The BOCOG Web site confirms that the relay is suspended, but offers no information about how the route will change. The Olympic flame is scheduled to arrive in Sichuan on June 15.
After its protest-heavy travels abroad, the Olympic flame within China has served as a reminder that aid is sorely needed for rescue and recovery efforts. Photographs of torchbearers leaving donations are ubiquitous in the Chinese press.
Among early reports on the relay's suspension in the mainstream media, this AP report that ran on the Sports Illustrated Web site is one of the most informative.
The three days of mourning began with three minutes of "silence" today at 2:28 p.m., exactly one week after the quake hit. The minutes of silence actually turned out to be three minutes of air-raid sirens and honking car horns in many cities, as the country cried together over the quake's devastation. How the three days of mourning will actually work remains uncertain; bars in some cities were forced to close at 11:00 on Monday night. This Shanghaiist post translates the relevant announcement from Anhui city in Hefei province, explaining how businesses are expected to observe the mourning period.
If you are looking to contribute to earthquake relief but unsure where to start, here is a guide to giving from GoKunming.
Tags: Olympics, torch relay, Wenchuan earthquake
this Xinhua report.
"We cannot go there in person but we will do our part in the relief," Liu Xiang said at the Beijing event.
Here are some of the donation amounts reported by Chinese media: 500,000 yuan ($71,395) each from Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, 110-meter hurdler Liu Xiang and diver Guo Jingjing; 100,000 yuan ($14,279) from Yi Jianlian and 980,000 yuan ($139,936) from the table tennis team. The State General Administration for Sport donated 5 million yuan ($714,000).
No Olympic venues were affected by the quake, but some sports competitions have been. According to China Daily, the Chinese soccer Super League postponed its Wednesday games until Saturday and the Chinese Football Association (CFA) is planning charity games to raise money for Sichuan. The paper also reported that the quake brought "Vision China Project, a nation-wide grassroots soccer event held by Asian Football Confederation, to an abrupt end."
The day after the quake, the Olympic torch relay's stop in Ruijin, Jiangxi province, began with a moment of silence; this observation will continue at each of the nearly 100 remaining cities on the route. The route remains unchanged, but ceremonies and celebrations are being scaled back, said BOCOG spokesperson Sun Weide.
In print media, the country's biggest sports newspaper, Titan Sports, ran front-page coverage of the quake's impact on the sporting world. The headline above reads: "Shaken: Right now, we are all from Sichuan." And in the large photo, torchbearers line up to put envelopes in a box marked: "Sichuan disaster area donations." The torch is scheduled to enter Sichuan on June 14.
Tags: Sichuan earthquake, Wenchuan earthquake