The inaugural edition of the China Cup will take place next year from 9-16 January and will be held in Nanning in the country’s southern Guangxi region. The competition will initially feature four teams, including China, before gradually expanding to eight.
The creation of the tournament has been approved by football’s global governing body, Fifa, as well as the Chinese Football Association and the Asian Football Confederation.
In a statement confirming the news Wanda said: “To help rev up the competition, three teams with styles similar to Asian countries and with higher playing levels will be invited to the China Cup in 2017.
“Starting from 2018, the China Cup will invite countries from Europe and the Americas whose teams have the highest skill levels, enabling international football stars to play in front of a vast number of Chinese soccer fans on the stage of the China Cup.”
The Dalian Wanda Group has become increasingly active in its efforts to become a major player in sports in recent years and so the formation of a football tournament in China as looked likely for some time, especially since the property and entertainment conglomerate group became a top-tier partner of Fifa earlier this year.
Only last week the group confirmed that it was in talks with a number of teams from Europe’s top leagues to form a breakaway tournament to the Uefa Champions League.
The Wanda Sports Holdings division, which is the privately owned sports arm of the Chinese group, will own the intellectual property rights to the new tournament. The new tournament is likely to prove attractive for sponsors who will be keen to tap into the increasingly lucrative Chinese market and growing popularity of football in Asia.