Sports / Soccer

Nation's poor World Cup displays trigger an apology

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-23 08:18

The Chinese Football Association has apologized for the national team's poor performances in qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The association said it took full responsibility for the team's lackluster displays and apologized for letting supporters down.

"The CFA will work on a more transparent and professional system including talent cultivation, coaching appointments and club management," it said in a statement.

The statement was issued after Guangzhou Evergrande's 1-0 aggregate victory in the AFC Champions League final against Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday night.

The association said it would "seriously analyze" calls by the public for national head coach Alain Perrin of France to be fired before it made a decision.

Soccer commentator and youth training promoter Huang Jianxiang said the government-affiliated association should learn lessons from Evergrande's success.

It should relinquish its centralized powers to private soccer investors, professional clubs and nongovernmental youth academies," Huang said.

He made the comments at an event in Beijing on Sunday to launch a youth soccer program organized by his company Sport8 International.

Huang's comments were echoed by Evergrande manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, the former Brazilian national team coach, who led the club to its fifth consecutive domestic league title last month.

"China has talented players who are good at learning, but they need to be trained and managed under a more professional system, which has still to be set up in the nation," Scolari said.

Four days before Evergrande's victory, China drew 0-0 with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in a qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup, leaving it with only a slim chance of making further progress.

It would be China's fourth failed World Cup qualifying attempt since the only time it reached the finals in 2002.

Such a setback would cast a shadow over the national plan approved in March to professionalize the game's management.

The association also said it will stage a congress in Beijing next month to work on measures to delink itself from government administration and to rebuild its management structure.

Wei Jixiang, vice-chairman of the association, said: "All the anger and criticism from fans and the media are understandable. But we must be patient, as it takes time to overhaul an ill-managed system."

Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou contributed to this story.

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