Upcoming China President Xu Jinping is an avid soccer fan and that – say experts like Rowan Simons – might explain why business people are throwing big money at foreign soccer players like Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, writes the BBC.
Rowan Simons, is the author of the book Bamboo Goalposts, the story of his long-term efforts to develop grass-roots football in China, and he has no doubt about the money now being lavished on foreign signings.
“These are vanity projects, investments to curry political favour and to show off,” he says.
And he agrees that the wealthy club owners will be paying close attention to the political signals coming from the very top.
“Of course the Chinese government has been fairly consistent in its ambition to win the World Cup, and it sees investment in football at club level as being a spur for the game.”
But there is a big flaw in the plan, he adds.
“It’s certainly true that the likes of Anelka and Drogba turning up will increase interest in the game, but the problems in Chinese football are systemic; very few football pitches and virtually no infrastructure at the grass-roots level.”