Rowan Simons

Soccer in China is government organized and that not only leads to a bad quality soccer, it is also illegal under the FIFA rules, writes soccer expert Rowan Simons at the New York Times. Rowan Simons is chairman of China ClubFootball FC, the first amateur football network in China with foreign investors, and the author of “Bamboo Goalposts.

The New York Times:

China is not at the World Cup and its women’s team is no longer a leading force for reasons of politics, economics, culture and education — all challenges we are trying to tackle with ClubFootball.

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.

This “top down” system has several fundamental flaws that ignore the long-term grassroots solutions required. 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.

Since the C.F.A. does not even have a department for amateur football, football must grow itself. With 100,000 supporters, 2,000 kids in after-school courses and 100 adult teams, this is exactly what ClubFootball is proving today in Beijing. If our small success (with no government funding) could be replicated in every large city, China could finally benefit from its one great football advantage — its people.

More at the New York Times.

Rowan Simons is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Are you looking for more experts to manage your China risk at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.


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