What France or England at Fifa World Cup could teach China about the value of racially diverse football teams

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 9:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 9:33pm

The disappointing performance of the Chinese national football team has again become a topic for discussion during the Fifa World Cup in Russia. Many explanations for the team’s failure have been given, but few consider that the team’s homogeneous ethnic background could be a reason for the lack of success.

This is the 21st century. Globalisation has brought people to work and live in countries other than their own. This is becoming more the norm, with more people willing to move abroad for better jobs and a better quality of life.

A look at some highly successful national football teams in Europe reveals that many have a multicultural face. The French and English teams have players of African origin, while the German team has players of Turkish origin.

Contrast this with the Chinese team, where the only non-Han player is Piao Cheng, who is of Korean descent. If hiring foreign coaches does not help take the Chinese team to the World Cup, how about opening up opportunities for ethnic minorities or even allowing some foreign talent to get Chinese citizenship to play for China?

If football was first played in China, why are the Chinese so bad at it?

China should not forget that the strongest periods in its history were also the times when the country and its people were the most open and tolerant towards outsiders.

This year’s World Cup has witnessed some Chinese presence – only confined to the commercial ads. While Chinese corporations hire many foreigners today, why can’t the Chinese football team show a more cosmopolitan face? The victory of the Dongfeng team in the Volvo Ocean Race  last month was solid proof that an international team under the Chinese flag can rock the world.

Walter Lee, Kwun Tong