‘Lagging’ Chinese Football Association damaging China development, says top official
Lack of ‘vision or foresight’ with national team ranked a lowly 77th and with their 2018 World Cup hopes all but over
Chinese football is being held back by poor running of their football association, a senior official has admitted in unusually forthright terms, saying “there is no vision or foresight”.
The Chinese Super League (CSL) has hit international headlines with a wave of big-name foreign signings, but the national team rank a lowly 77th in the Fifa world rankings, with their 2018 World Cup hopes effectively over.
President Xi Jinping has stated his aim to make China a genuine force in international football, and the government is throwing money at the project.
But Li Yuyi, vice chairman of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), said the ruling body needed to shape up fast.
“The reason Chinese football lags behind is mainly because the management of the Chinese Football Association is lagging behind,” he told CCTV.
“First, what needed to be done in 2017 was only assigned [to someone] in 2017. Without a budget, how can anything be done?
“Second, in our country, we go back and forth to report and discuss, which could take half a year. Like this there is no vision and foresight. Without these, how can anything be done?”
The CFA has been on the receiving end of criticism from fans, coaches and players this season over a number of decisions.
In May, in a bid to curtail spending, they announced a 100 per cent surcharge on transfer fees paid by debt-laden clubs for foreign players, saying the money raised would be spent on developing Chinese youth football.
Andre Villas-Boas, coach of Shanghai SIPG, said at the weekend the policy – blamed for severely curtailing spending in the summer transfer window – was “a big surprise” for clubs.
The CFA has also drawn fire for imposing a series of lengthy suspensions on players, including hitting SIPG’s €60 million (HK$553 million) signing Oscar with an eight-game ban for sparking an on-pitch brawl.
Villas-Boas and Brazilian international Hulk were banned for two games when they made plain their displeasure at Oscar’s punishment.