Let’s talk politics. The Chinese Football Association is an illegal organization under Article 17 of FIFA’s constitution which demands independence from government. Yet government control of the C.F.A. is clearly laid out in China’s 1994 Sports Law. These mutually exclusive regulations pose significant concerns.
Soccer needs a bottom-up approach from the grassroots in the urban neighborhoods, an approach that does not fit the country’s bureaucratic culture:
Chinese sport still follows a Soviet model, placing children in elite schools (at their own expense!). Football is a mass participation sport in which the best players may not emerge until their later teens. The simple truth is that China needs a system of community-based clubs that are run by the people for the people.
Rowan Simons is the chairman of China ClubFootball FC, the first amateur football network in China with foreign investors, and the author of “Bamboo Goalposts. He is also a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need him at your meeting or conference, do get in touch.