The influx of well-paid international soccer stars into Chinese club might not be the best way to support grassroots soccer, tells author Rowan Simons in SportsDay, but it is better to pay high-flyers like Nicolas Anelka in stead of bribes, as was common practices.
“This is just the beginning. Every transfer window from now on you will expect to see more 30-plus world stars, or previous world stars, starting to take big salary payments for a couple of years in China,” said Rowan Simons, a British ex-pat who in his 2009 book Bamboo Goalposts wrote of his dogged efforts to develop soccer in his adopted country…
China’s women’s national team nearly won the World Cup in 1999, holding Mia Hamm and the United States scoreless for 120 minutes in the final before succumbing in a penalty kick shootout at the Rose Bowl. The men’s team, however, has never won a game or even scored a goal at the World Cup, going 0-3-0 in its lone appearance in 2002. The current team has already been eliminated from qualifying for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
Rather than spending on talent or player development, the Chinese for years have used their money to buy off referees and players. Just this week, several Chinese Football Association officials and referees — including a former director of the CFA’s referee committee — went on trial on match-fixing charges.
Simons says the new spending spree on talent could be good for China, with money that might have been spent on rigging results now going toward purchasing high-profile players. But, speaking on the BBC radio program World Football, he expressed skepticism “whether this new injection of cash at the top will really have a significant impact on the grass roots,” which is where China has long suffered.
- Anelka opens the international floodgates for Chinese soccer – Rowan Simons (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- Column: Is China the New Klondike of Soccer? (nytimes.com)
- Anelka, Early Revolutionary China Football (rabpinfo.wordpress.com)
- Special report on China’s football ‘arms race’ (thesun.co.uk)