Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Soccer reform goal more than national success

By Li Yang (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-04 07:33

Although a club from Guangzhou won the Asian Champion League two years ago, the level of Chinese football remains low. In contrast, Japan and South Korea, two rivals of China on the pitch, have made stable progress and won their position in the world after decades of relentless efforts.

There needs to be a detailed action plan on how the reforms are to be implemented if they are to have the desired effect in cleansing and raising the level of the sport in China.

The government also needs to increase its input in soccer in schools and at the grassroots level. The number of young footballers in China is even less than in Vietnam and Thailand. Only three to four clubs out of the dozens of big clubs in China have comprehensive youth training programs.

Few parents want their kids to play soccer because of the corruption in the sport. If parents cannot be convinced that a soccer-playing child has a future, there is no future for Chinese soccer.

The Chinese Football Association also needs to be transformed into a responsible supervisor and service provider, instead of the almighty power it is now.

This will only be achieved if the sports administration system in China abandons its gold-medal mindset, so it pays more attention to promoting sports among the people.

To improve the performance of China's national soccer team, China should encourage more players to play in better foreign leagues, as Prince William said, rather than simply changing the national coach every couple of years.

And rather than seeing soccer as a cash cow to be milked, those that govern the game in China need to bear in mind it is a sport that should be enjoyed by players at all levels. Only in this way can Chinese soccer look forward to a winning future.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

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