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06 November 2018

The Australian Football League (AFL) has extended its commitment to hold a Toyota AFL Premiership Season match in Shanghai, China, for another three years – 2019 through to 2021, with support from Tourism Australia.

Kicking off the extension of commitment, the AFL, in partnership with Tourism Australia as its Official Tourism Partner, will present a match between the St Kilda and Port Adelaide Football Clubs.

This marks the third time the AFL has descended on the shores of Shanghai at Adelaide Arena at Jiangwan Stadium, since staging its first historic match in Shanghai in 2017 – the first AFL clash for premiership points outside of Australia and New Zealand.

Speaking about the announcement, Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan said supporting the AFL matches in Shanghai offered another way to reach potential travellers in China.

“Tourism Australia is delighted to bring AFL to Shanghai for the third time running. The last two matches in Shanghai have been a resounding success with sports enthusiasts in Shanghai along with travelling fans filling out the Adelaide Arena at Jiangwan stadium,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“AFL matches being played in China provide a fantastic opportunity to promote Australia as the tourism destination of choice through sport in Australia’s largest tourism market.”

Tourism Australia has been the official tourism partner for the AFL matches in China since the inaugural match in 2017.

Apart from branding at the event, Tourism Australia will also hold joint activations with AFL to further grow interest not just in the sport but also the Australian way of life.

“Building on the momentum of the first two Premiership Season matches played in Shanghai for the last two years, we are thrilled to be committed to scheduling matches in Shanghai for the next three years from 2019,” said David Stevenson, AFL General Manager, China and India.

“Playing the match on Sunday 2 June 2019 will allow football fans from Australia throughout Asia to travel to Shanghai to compete in the Shanghai Cup, a fun tournament where players of all ages can come together to enjoy matches of AFL.”

“We, along with the Australian Government and Tourism Australia, are excited and pleased to be playing our part is showcasing, not only the game of AFL, but the whole Australian way of life to our friends in China,” Mr Stevenson said.

“It is incredibly exciting for the St Kilda Football Club to be playing in Shanghai, and helping promote Australia, and Victoria, as a tourism destination. Football is part of the fabric of Victoria, its intertwined in our culture, our heritage, our past and our future. We are thrilled to be helping strengthen the bond we share with China, through our great game,” said Matt Finnis, CEO of St Kilda Football Club.

“Four years ago, the Port Adelaide Football Club commenced a journey to engage with the people of China. With the vision and wisdom of our great friend Mr Gui Guojie of Shanghai Cred, the support of the AFL, the Australian Government, Tourism Australia, the Shanghai Municipality and the Yangpu Government, our China dream became possible,” said Keith Thomas, CEO of Port Adelaide Football Club.

“Millions of Chinese sports fans are now watching Australian Football on Chinese TV on a weekly basis throughout the season, with the annual Shanghai game attracting an audience the same size as an AFL Grand Final, creating stronger links between our two countries.”

In 2015, the Australian Government launched its International Sports Diplomacy strategy to support the development of closer relationships with countries around the world and putting on AFL matches in China is part of that strategy in action.

For the past two years, Shanghai’s sport lovers and travelling fans have witnessed the showdown between the Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast Football Clubs. In 2019, spectators will be treated to a different clash as the St. Kilda Football Club takes on the Port Adelaide Football Club.

China continues to be Australia’s largest source market for international visitors, with Australia welcoming 1.4 million Chinese visitors spending $11.3 billion in 2017-18.