Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano has stressed the Premier League champions’ determination to make a big and positive impact in China.
City were accused of being arrogant and disrespectful during their visit to the country last week in a critical editorial published by the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua.
The piece also accused City, who played games in the Premier League Asia Trophy in Nanjing and Shanghai, of visiting China only to “win wallets, not hearts and minds”.
Xinhua have now offered the club the right of reply and Soriano has pointed out that City’s commitment to China is significant.
The club’s parent company, City Football Group, bought a stake in Chinese third-tier club Sichuan Jiuniu FC earlier this year, adding them to their portfolio of clubs. CFG itself is part Chinese owned.
Soriano said: “It is a long journey. We are here to stay. We have the aspiration and the commitment. We will be a positive force in the development of Chinese football.
“I don’t want to say anything about West Ham or other teams. They just come here to play a game. This is not our case.
“Our commitment and investment in China goes far, far more. We have a team in Chengdu. We have coaches in Chinese schools and we want to be part of the football development in China.
“We want to be an active part and not just a foreign team comes to play and goes back.”
Xinhua’s editorial claimed that the other clubs involved in the competition, Wolves, West Ham and Newcastle won “a new-found respect and new fans” while City would “leave China with neither”.
Wolves, who are Chinese owned, did make a noticeable effort to engage but Soriano claimed it was wrong to claim City showed “an attitude of arrogance” in comparison in their dealings with fans and media.
He said: “I don’t think it is the case. We are not arrogant anywhere. You can see that our players were close to the fans, every media was treated the same way.
“Both games in Nanjing and Shanghai were good, the fans were good, the atmosphere was good and the players were happy.”
- Press Association