Though the Chinese had topped the medal tally in the recent Olympics Games, China is still glaringly weak in “ball” games like football.
The Chinese football men team has not been able to achieve the success of its neighbors, Japan and South Korea. First, it failed miserably to move beyond the second round in the World Cup qualification for South Africa in 2010 and second, the Olympics’ men team cannot even win a single match even though the matches were played at home. China’s men soccer team should consider themselves lucky to be able to qualify for the Olympics as host, otherwise I think they would have crashed out in the Asian qualifying rounds if they were required to do so as any member countries. I am not trying to be sarcastic but this is the truth.
What is wrong?
As Fan Zhiyi, a former Chinese soccer player, puts it squarely, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) led by the despised Xie Yalong had messed up big time. The Chinese football league is spiraling downwards with a lack of quality matches and riddled with poor attendance in most of the matches.
Chinese diehard fans are the biggest losers and they would crowd the stadiums, with their smiling painted red and yellow faces at the start of the match but always ended eternally frustrated and disappointed at the end of the match. If Chinese football teams failed to produce the desired results, I would not be surprised that even the hardcore supporters would run away for good.
Personally, I notice that the Chinese soccer authority in the past decade have been unsuccessful in producing quality players in the make of Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho or even Asian skillful players like Park Ji Sung. Most of the current batch of football players cannot even control and deliver an accurate pass properly. The absence of deadly strikers is also very prevalent. Sadly, some of these players do not have the confidence to take on defenders. And most of the Chinese game play lacks imagination and creativeness. There is just no individual flair like the Japanese players and the teams from West Asia.
It is time for the CFA to really review its soccer development programs at the grassroots level. There must be an honest restructuring of the governing structure and the CFA must be brave enough to sack certain senior personnel who are corrupted and unable to perform their jobs. The CFA must be responsible to the legion of Chinese fans and not, to the political authorities coming from the top.
Even the Chinese news media like Xinhua and China Daily have joined ordinary Chinese in very loudly and publicly bashing the team. Fans used cartoon caricatures to depict their pent-up frustrations on the Internet forum.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter bluntly told the Chinese Soccer Federation that they must put in place short and long-term plans and seek continuity of programs if it is to make an impact in international football. He said that there were no miracle short-term cures to being successful in international football and China must put in the hard work to achieve that. For a start, China must institute successful programs for teams at international under-17 and 20 level rather than just hiring big-name coaches seeking a quick fix.
We do hope that the CFA can accept criticisms from the FIFA President and revamp its youth programs (focusing more on individual skills) by tapping from its large population base with a view to develop a strong and successful senior team perhaps, in the next 5 to 10 years.