LONDON – Today, Inter President Steven Zhang was a speaker at the 2020 edition of the FT Business of Football Summit, which was organised by the Financial Times.
Zhang, who is a member of the Executive Board of the ECA (European Club Association) along with representatives from other clubs and figures from the football world, talked about his own vision and the business model that is driving Inter forward.
The President’s speech began with a comment on the impact that the coronavirus is having on Serie A: “We work in football and have a big impact on the world and society, it’s our duty to transmit a positive message and take responsibility. The sports world needs to send out a positive and united message at times like this. We believe that public health and safety come first and must not be compromised. When it comes to protecting public health, you can’t go far enough with what you say. When the proposal was made to us to move Juventus vs. Inter back one day, I thought it was completely wrong from a moral point of view. Anyone could see that the measures that have been put in place in China have been successful. I believe that public health and safety are the priority. There can be no compromise in this respect. The new measures introduced by the Italian government have been adopted with this in mind. Yesterday, the argument that gatherings should be avoided was reinforced, safety must always come first. By taking the right measures, the number of cases will decrease and people will start to feel at ease again.”
The discussion then switched to the connection between Suning, Inter and the Chinese market: “Suning’s core business is consumer business. We have evolved from being an offline company to being online. Our revenue has increased, we broadcast the major football leagues in China. Our aim is to provide digital content that is interesting for different audiences, taking into account different cultures and generations in the process.
“As regards Inter, the work done by Inter Media House, which came into being in 2017 and has continued to grow in terms of numbers and quality since then, is key for the Nerazzurri brand’s visibility. We’re on all platforms as we look to explore all markets. We need to have a global and digital outlook because our sponsors want to reach international audiences and engage the younger generations. Our work is centred on letting our fans know what is going on beyond the 90 minutes spent on the pitch. The challenge we have is to ensure that we remain engaging even when we’re not playing.”
On the Nerazzurri’s investments in the transfer market: “Sports results are vital for us, which is why we’ve invested in great players. Our objective is to always compete at the highest level in order to make our fans happy. We’re making investments and abiding by the FFP rules in place to ensure that football remains sustainable. We also do this with commercial and marketing aspects in mind, global expansion is what we need to be aiming for.”
As regards the new stadium, Steven Zhang had the following to say: “We are working positively with the city’s institutions, who have welcomed our proposal, which we are carrying forward with a historic club in AC Milan. We need to ensure a better experience for those who go to the stadium, with this applying to both fans and broadcasters. Things are moving forward, we’re confident.”
On women’s football: “It’s an increasingly interesting aspect. Our fans took to Inter Women right away, while this also applies to the Chinese women’s team. Our partners are very interested and perceptive, all clubs are heading down this path.”
Zhang also commented on the issue of racism: “Education is the appropriate tool to combat this problem. We have the world INTERNAZIONALE in the name of our Club. We remain as one and Brothers Universally United, irrespective of the culture we come from. Our campaigns aim to raise awareness and send out the right messages, starting from the youngest members of society.”
Finally, the Inter President spoke about Financial Fair Play: “We follow the rules. In football, the system’s sustainability is important and helps to develop the business properly. If the business model changes, FFP will also be adapted. However, the rules must always be respected.”