Chinese Football Association (CFA)

To take China to the Fifa World Cup, focus on teen exports, not imports

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 2:02pm

I refer to the letter from Walter Lee, “What France or England at Fifa World Cup could teach China about the value of racially diverse football teams” (July 10).

I believe it is difficult to get foreigners to play for China because of immigration policy hurdles. But I do think China should spend more money on sending their teenage footballers overseas to receive better training, rather than hire expensive coaches.

An applicant for Chinese citizenship has to show strong relations to the country, and one requirement is that they have a close relative who is Chinese. Ethnic minority players from overseas cannot easily satisfy this criterion.

Changing this law could also bring many social problems, particularly in terms of security and welfare expenses for China, which is already a vast nation with a population of nearly 1.4 billion.

The easiest way to bring hope to the Chinese national football team would be to actually send our young footballers overseas for training.

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We must admit that football is not the kind of sport that Chinese people are traditionally good at. We excel instead at swimming, gymnastics and table tennis.

We must learn from countries that are very strong at football, like the Netherlands, Germany and France. Teenage footballers can learn from the great players and get to know their counterparts from other parts of the world. This is very important, particularly in international matches, for a better understanding of common strategies.

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Having footballers train in foreign countries is nothing new. Take Belgium, for example. The Red Devils reached the semi-finals in the just-concluded World Cup. A lot of their footballers have actually trained overseas, including the well-known Eden Hazard, who went to France as a teenager.

Rather than focus on importing players, it is crucial for us to absorb what is good in other countries and improve our local football training so that we can develop a full-fledged football culture in China.

Anson Chan, North Point