Millions love ‘beautiful game,’ so why does China struggle with football?

July 8, 2014

With a population of 1.3 billion, you’d think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.

But apparently not. Since 2002, the last — and only — time it made it to the World Cup finals, Team China has struggled internationally. A nadir came in June last year, when the side lost a home game 5-1 against a Thai side made up largely of youth team players.

Their sorry showing on the football pitch is cause for despair, ridicule and frustration.

It’s not for lack of trying, however.

Imported pedigree

It’s often considered an issue of leadership, with flashy, expensive foreign hires typically made to steer the national team. In 2011, amid towering expectations, ex-Real Madrid legend Jose Antonio Camacho was appointed. He was tasked leading China to the 2014 World Cup, but was instead sacked two years later, following that humiliation at the hands of the Thais. With that result, it was considered that he’d left the team worse off than when he started.

To make matters worse, the Spaniard was then handed a $4 million severance package.




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