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Pirelli may help China score a goal

THE Pirelli Group, the world's fifth-largest tire maker, is negotiating with the Chinese Football Association to sponsor the Chinese Super League 2009 season and an announcement is expected on Friday.

The negotiations between the Italian company and the Chinese league are in their final stages, according to the Oriental Morning Post.

An insider from Pirelli China admitted the negotiations were taking place but gave no further details.

Pirelli's focus on the Chinese market is unchanged, the insider said.

Also a major sponsor for the Italian Football Club Inter Milan, the 130-year-old Pirelli company set up a joint venture in Shandong Province with a total investment of US$90 million which was later expanded to US$180 million.

The company also told the Inter Milan players to wear jerseys with the Chinese translation for "Pirelli" in four different games to attract more Chinese soccer fans after 2005.

The naming rights to the CSL might cost Pirelli 10 million yuan (US$1.46 million), the newspaper said.

The CSL had its average annual income drop below 40 million yuan in the past three years, compared with about 200 million at its peak.

Sixteen CSL clubs sent senior executives along with CSL officials to Italy in February seeking potential sponsors.

Chinese soccer hit the depths last year after its failed to make the Games of Asia Top Ten and its dismal performance during the Beijing Olympics.


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