The roll call of failure in soccer

Updated: 2011-12-22 16:03

By Huang Shuo (

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Campaigns for the 2011 Asian Cup, London 2012, and Brazil 2014 have, in the words of some, left Chinese soccer “dead.” With the soccer corruption trial underway, some may argue that Chinese football has reached its lowest point in history.

One blogger expressed on, a news portal in China, “no more illusion! No more reasons! If we want to stop self-delusion, if Chinese football really wants to be revived, there is only one way for Chinese football: ‘play’ from kids!”

It has been proven that there is a dead end for utilitarian football. The statistics have shown this (Chinese football’s registered population is only 8,000 people, among them there are 7,000 teenagers, the female population is only 400 people) It is an undeniable result that Chinese football is dying as the numbers were much larger ten years ago.

We are a country of 1.3 billion, yet so few of the people are fully engaged in the so-called global sport. What can we learn from this?

In the first place, it is not true that Chinese people love football. Secondly, football in China was never a popular sport, even not in the top ten popular sports. Thirdly, the Chinese football association has not executed its duty; management and administration should be separate. Fourth, Chinese football fans “Ye gong hao long” (This Chinese idiom satirizes those who profess to like or support something, but are averse to it in actual practice.).

Many people blame the Chinese Football Association (CFA) and its eccentric system. They also blame the match-fixing and dark image of the football world. These are only superficial reasons. At least there are two reasons which might be overlooked easily, both of which have placed restrictions on the development of Chinese football population.

Firstly, the disadvantages are clear, but it seems we still cannot find a way to replace examination-oriented education method, the constant demand from both schools and families leave kids with little chance to get in touch with football.

Secondly, years of real estate overdevelopment have occupied and limited space for public playgrounds, which leaves children few places to play football. A scarce amount of playground in China can only meet the needs of a scarce football population.

Chinese football is falling whereas the Chinese economy is developing. There is no direct relationship between those two, but the development of Chinese football has not benefited from the country’s economic development. The problems of examination-oriented education system, overdevelopment of real estate, parents pampering their kids, and a venal football association result in “Hong Dong Xian Li Wu Hao Ren” (anything that has a relationship with football is worthless).

Recently, few people have cared about the national team’s losses. This kind of placid and jaded attitude among public reflects football in China is on the way back to its most basic status; indifference. Will the result of football match affect Chinese people happiness? No, it will not. That era has passed away.

If we want to develop Chinese football, first of all, we need to construct a solid background, offering enough time and space for kids to play. Then the promotion of school football can bring some hope for all, but development should start from playing; happiness and health are the presents which can solely gain trust and interest from parents and children. Any utilitarian behavior would ruin the initial development of school football.

Imagine if football develops into the most popular sport among Chinese people, then it would never die, it would grow stubbornly from gaps between buildings and parental guidance, able to embrace a bright future.

After all, football is just a game.

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Debate: Will Chinese soccer be saved?