Asian Football Confederation blows the final whistle on LeSports contract

Updated 2017-03-01 12:05:31 China Daily

The Asian Football Confederation announced on Tuesday it would terminate its contract with LeSports, the sports unit of Chinese internet company LeEco-and award its broadcast rights in China to leading sports marketing company China Sports Media for the remainder of the 2017-2020 commercial cycle.

CSM secured the rights for the AFC competitions, including the AFC Champions League, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup.

LeEco also released a statement to confirm the development, saying its audience would no longer see related sports events on the LeSports platform.

LeSports was awarded the exclusive media rights in China for AFC's portfolio of 2017 to 2020 events in October 2015.

Cash-strapped LeEco is restructuring its business and moving to recover its financial position from a cash crunch and corporate overextension last year. Until recently, it was seen as a rising star in the corporate world with US financial magazine Forbes calling it in October "ambitious" and a "breath of fresh air" in its willingness to take risks.

It has become more focused on its core areas, such as the TV sector, as some unprofitable operations have become marginalized.

In January LeEco secured 16.8 billion yuan (.4 billion) in funding led by Sunac China Holdings Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed real property developer.

The two sides also announced a strategic cooperation on Tuesday. Liang Jun, president of LeTV Zhixin Electronic Technology (Tianjin) Co Ltd, which is responsible for LeEco's TV business, said the high-end properties of Sunac would introduce its 70-inch and above TV sets, while LeEco would utilize its advantages in marketing to help the sales of Sunac's boutique properties.

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