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Chinese football's bittersweet 2016

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-11-29 10:29

Italian Marcello Lippi took over Gao's position on Oct. 22, arousing mixed feelings from the Chinese fans. But the 0-0 draw with Qatar in the fifth round of the World Cup preliminaries sparked controversy nationwide.

"It is not worth a large sum of money to hire a World Cup winning coach just for six games," said one netizen.

"The foreign aids can help Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande win everything, but the local footballers help him win nothing," wrote another netizen in a post on China's Twitter-like Weibo.

The controversy, which started from the beginning of the year, was once more stirred at the end of the year as the CSL concluded. Some fans and media argued that the expensive imports into the CSL could impede the development of Chinese soccer rather than spur it.

Despite having one of the best youth training systems in the CSL, Hangzhou Greentown became one of the demoted sides this year.

"Just having many talented players is not enough to become a powerful side," said former Dortmund star Karl-Heinz Riedle.

"A strong team should have experienced players," the 51-year-old added.

China aims to have good performances in the Asian Games, Olympic Games, the Asian Cup and the World Cup in the next five years.

According to the 13th five-year plan on competitive sports, China's basketball and volleyball teams are eager to copy football's reform experiences, aiming to count themselves among the world's elite. Only time will tell if they can achieve this feat.


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