With things seemingly going from bad to worse for men’s football in China, and amid salary disputes in the Super League and a string of bad performances that left the country’s World Cup campaign in tatters, authorities are stepping in. During last week’s National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Gao Yanming, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, put forward a series of proposals to “revitalise” men’s football in the country. Gao said the men’s game had got so bad, it needed to be addressed at a national level and called for the establishment of a “national football leading group” to review training methods, strategies and lift standards to an acceptable level. China U-17, coached by Yang Chen, start their training camp in Shanghai. It appears that every player has cut their short in the same hairstyle. Are they going for football training camp or military training camp? pic.twitter.com/KdoRX5ak92 — China Sports Vision 2050 (@CSV2050) March 9, 2022 He said this could be done in several ways, including taking inspiration from the military. Among Gao’s proposals is a “troop system” style of training to instil a sense of discipline and obedience, and create an environment where misbehaviour would not be tolerated. His proposal included bans of up to three years for players who disobey management or misbehave, and doubled down on previous calls to ban tattoos outright, and hold players up as inspirational figures, including those from the under-21 and under-17 national teams. “Over the past 40 years of reform and opening up, my country has made great progress in all aspects, but the overall level of Chinese men’s football has not advanced, it has retreated,” Gao was quoted as saying in mainland media. “Football is a mass sport. If China can’t become a big football country, it can’t become a football power. Football has its special requirements, that is, it must have a field. The state can build football fields according to the urban population density. “Make special regulations, build more football fields, and strive to expand the football population base.” Gao said facts had shown that as long as the country attached importance to a cause and was willing to put it into practice, nothing was impossible for China and its people. “The same is true for Chinese football,” he said. “I firmly believe that through hard work, China will be able to cultivate an iron army-style football team with strong national consciousness, upright thinking, tenacious work style, excellent technology and superior level in the near future.” The proposals have been met with some optimism, with online supporters voicing their approval of the military measures. Several articles from mainland media outlets, have even referred to national team players as “soldiers” who must strive to rebound. The tone of these new proposals is not out of step with recent announcements from China’s sport administration which last year placed an outright ban on tattoos, and even went so far as to suggest players have existing tattoos removed. In December the General Administration of Sport called for national teams to organise “ideological and political education activities” that would “strengthen the patriotic education” of players. GAS said the rules would set a “good example for society” and “enhance the sense of mission, responsibility and honour, and create a national team capable of conquering and fighting well and with excellent style of play”. The proposals are likely to come to a head should the national team’s next two matches end badly. While China’s hopes of qualifying for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 ended after their 3-1 defeat to Vietnam in February, the team play Saudi Arabia in Group B on March 24, and take on Oman five days later.