After enduring years of crushing disappointment, Chinese football fans are used to it, as the national team has faltered over and over again. Even though China is home to a massive number of world class athletes and football is among the country’s most popular sports, they couldn’t beat Qatar to qualify for the World Cup. Well, maybe that’s not being fair – they qualified for the Korean World Cup in 2002, even though they didn’t win any games or score any goals.
What’s Happening Here?
Chengdu’s local team has been mired by as much bad press and luck as the national team, but locals seem barely seem to bat an eye. China might have captured the most gold medals in 2008’s Summer Olympics, but their national soccer team (nicknamed the “National Foot”, ??) can’t seem to win a damn thing. Last summer they were ranked 108th in world rankings, barely beating the Sudanese national team but not quite as good as Rwanda. Wikipedia provides a few answers for the question of how things could have gone so wrong:
- sub-par technical standards in training, selection and preparation
- lack of leadership and vision from the Chinese Football Association
- incompetent organization and government interference
- corruption, especially in the refereeing of matches
- low participation and neglect of grassroots and junior football (according to the 2006 FIFA Big Count, China had 708,754 amateur and youth players from a population of 1.3 billion(ratio of 1:1834) compared to 738,800 from 41 million(ratio of 1:55) in England)
- over-reliance on foreign coaches (mainly eastern European, Serbian) signals lack of domestic coach development
- unable to cope with the pressure from the Chinese football press and media
What do you think?
It’s hard to imagine how things can get much worse when the tiny Arab peninsula of Qatar is an insurmountable obstacle for China’s national team.
What are you thoughts on how China can remedy its national football program? Are you sad to see the Blades get demoted, or do they deserve it?