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China Daily Website

Blatter making himself at home in China

Updated: 2012-11-26 19:58
By Sun Xiaochen ( China Daily)

Philippe Blatter's relationship with China is both business and pleasure.

"Ten years ago, I traveled to China with a backpack. I spent 12 weeks here visiting different places by buses and trains," said Blatter, president and CEO of the CBA's global exclusive marketing partner, Infront. "That's where I started to love this country and all the different faces you see here."

Blatter spends significant time here every year. He visits Infront China's Beijing office every month-and-a-half to meet with league officials and sponsors.

"If I learned 10 words every time I came to China, I would be able to have some conversation in Chinese by now," he said.

Although mastering the language remains a challenge, Blatter said he has no trouble communicating with people.

"There are so many things to see in China," he said. "One thing I always love to do is to meet people. If you buy food on the street or something else, you have to bargain.

"But I also very much enjoy the culture part and traveling around China if time allows. There is so much to discover in this huge country. I am looking forward to coming many more times."

A long-distance triathlon enthusiast, Blatter finished the first "Ironman China" race in Haikou, the capital of Hainan province, in 2008.

"The competition is quite demanding, but for me it is not so much about the final result. It is about the journey to the finish line and the journey to be best prepared for the challenge — after all, you have to swim 3.8km, cycle 180km and finish with a full marathon of 42.2km " he said.

The 48-year-old said he would love to pass his love of China on to his 8-year-old twin boys, who have already demonstrated an interest in a country they've only seen in books.

"I hope they want to discover China. We have a big book of China at home and I explain to them achievements like the Great Wall," he said.

"Each time I come over here, I bring back gifts for them. They love the traditional dresses and opera masks. When they play music at school, they want to perform in these dresses. It shows how interested they are. Next year, I will bring them to China."

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