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Welcome to Wanda stadium

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Wanda is set to feature more in Europe’s newspapers. That is not because of the Chinese conglomerate’s overseas acquisition drive (which ground to a halt recently) but thanks to a new stadium in Spain that has been named after the group.

On Saturday Atletico Madrid defeated Malaga 1-0 in the Spanish football team’s first home match this season. But the main story in the media was the new stadium: the Wanda Metropolitano.

The 68,000-capacity stadium has half of its title named after the Estadio Metropolitano, where Atletico played before moving to the Calderón in 1966; and the club’s Chinese shareholder provides the other half.

The venue is believed to have cost around €170 million ($204 million) to build. Part of the investment has been financed by the Wanda Metropolitano’s naming rights agreement, which Sohu Sport has reported to be worth “around €10 million” a year.

Most fans at Wanda’s opening night appeared to be impressed. “The Wanda Metropolitano is not the Calderón, the nostalgia lingers, and there is maybe even a sense of loss. But, wow, it’s certainly impressive,” the UK’s Guardian wrote. ESPN also noted that moving to the Wanda stadium is “a huge step forward for a club hoping to permanently break the Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly”.

In spite of Atletico’s Wanda affiliation, most La Liga fans in China remain loyal to either Barcelona or Real Madrid. Matches between the duo are dubbed El Clasico, or sometimes as “the national derby of Spain”.

In order to capitalise on China’s growing interest in Spanish football, La Liga bosses have scheduled the next Clasico (on December 23) to kick-off at 1pm local time. The midday kick-off means that Chinese fans will be able to watch the clash at 8pm Beijing time.

“We don’t need to stay up until midnight to watch the Spanish national derby. This is a victory for Chinese football fans,” Sohu Sport cheered.


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