Revealed: The heated dispute between Bo Xilai and billionaire Wang Jianlin... over football
Billionaire Wang Jianlin had a heated dispute with fallen politician Bo Xilai over bonuses for football players, with Bo telling Wang: “when I give you an inch, don’t try taking a mile”, according to mainland magazine Blog Weekly (Boke Tianxia).
Wang, 59, was China’s richest man until this week when internet mogul Robin Li took the title. Known for his audacious investment, his entertainment conglomerate Wanda recently invested as much as 50 billion yuan (HK$63.03 billion) to build the world’s largest film and television industry project in the coastal city of Qingdao, billed as “the Hollywood of the Orient” in the mainland press.
In 2011, the tycoon pumped US$77 million into the Chinese Football Association (CFA) to invigorate the sport by funding training, coaching, and youth programmes.
But Wang’s enthusiasm for the game has a longer history.
He financed a professional football club, Dalian Wanda, in the 1990s. Despite winning four league championships, Wang dropped out in 1998 amidst game fixing accusations.
According to Blog Weekly, Wang motivated his players with three different tiers of bonuses: 600,000, 400,000, and 300,000 yuan. If the players won, they’d take 100 per cent, tying a game meant half, and losing a game meant no bonuses. For every goal scored, Wang rewarded players with an additional 100,000 yuan bonus.
Apart from cash prizes, Wang also gave players gold footballs weighing 300 grams.
Once, during an internal meeting for the Dalian municipal government, a participant reportedly saw Wang and Bo engaged in a heated conversation - Wang wanted the government to take out 1 million yuan in bonuses for the football team, Bo responded angrily: “You want more? The discounts I gave you for your real estate isn’t money? The bonuses you gave to [soccer players] can also been seen from the government. When I give you an inch, don’t try taking a mile”.
Born the eldest of five in a military family, Wang left the PLA to pursue more profitable dreams.
“My eldest son is the pillar of our family. He’s smart and capable, all his younger brothers listen to him,” Wang’s mother reportedly said.
Ever since Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai’s fall from grace, Wang has maintained that his successful Dalian enterprises did not rely on political connections to expand during Bo’s tenure.
In a speech he gave at Harvard, Wang said: “Stay close to the government, stay away from politics”.
At a star-studded event, the Dalian-based company announced yesterday that it would invest as much as 50 billion yuan (HK$63.03 billion) to build the world’s largest film and television industry project in the coastal city of Qingdao, in northeastern Shandong province.