(AsiaNews / Agencies) - Attracted to Shanghai by the promise of billion dollar
contracts, the international soccer stars Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are
without pay since August. The
billionaire Zhu Jun, top manager of the Shanghai Shenhua Football Club, decided
to block the huge salaries of two former Chelsea strikers. This
is to counter the hegemony of state enterprises, the main shareholder of the
team, who refuse to give 70% of Shenhua shares to Zhu and contribute to the
payment of the two champions. Both cost about 30
million euro per year.
Football is not very popular in China and revenues are low and in some cases non-existent. However, the local government of Shanghai has decided to develop its team convinced it could attract greater international prestige and the attention of sponsors with international players at the approaching the end of their career. Not having enough money to manage the team, in 2007 the city authorities approached billionaire Zhu to become a 28% shareholder, promising to give him 70% of the shares once his investment topped 22 million euro. In five years, Zhu has spent about 73 million, but its share has remained the same since 2007.
In June, the billionaire negotiated the purchase of Drogba and Anelka, in addition to the Colombian midfielder Giovanni Moreno and coach Sergio Bautista. In this way, the entrepreneur has increased his investment, but also contributed to increasing the value of the team at an international level. The lure of a possible future gain pushed the other shareholders, including major public companies in media and entertainment in Shanghai, to block the sale of the team to Zhu, who responded by holding the salary reserved for two players.
According to analysts, the standoff between the billionaire and state-owned companies of the Communist Party could be imitated by other entrepreneurs, tired of public interference in economic affairs.
Meanwhile, frustrated international stars of Shenhua have to yet to choose whether to play for free and rely on the strength of their manager or terminate their contract and give up their earnings. So far, the Ivorian striker Drogba seems to have chosen the former. After a phone call to Zhu, on September 15, after a series of matches in the stands, the player took to the field scoring all of the goals in the 3 to 0 win against Liaoning Whowin, from Shenyang city, northeast China.