Chinese Football Revolution - An ever growing kingdom

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Chinese Football Revolution - An ever growing kingdom

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sounak mullick

02/16/2017

The Chinese Super League is posing a serious threat to the domination of the European Leagues in the transfer market. But what is the ulterior behind this?

The Chinese Super League is undoubtedly one of the most talked about leagues in the world at the present moment, and it is certainly posing a threat to the ever so dominating football leagues in Europe. The money at stake in the league is tempting, and the top profile players are migrating towards Asia like the bees flocking to a bee-hive. This league was founded in 2004, a relatively new venture, and it is now brushing shoulders and competing with the most illustrious leagues in the world. Carlos Tevez is reportedly earning a whopping 615,000 pounds a week, a higher pay rate than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, making him the most expensive player at the present.

Oscar, one of the finest footballers in recent times and a pivotal figure in the Brazilian yellow-shirt, would have never thought of landing himself in China two years back. Such was the amount offered that even the humblest of saints could have been tempted by it. Chelsea are yet to replace the attacking footballer after he fled to the other side of the globe. Shanghai SIPG offered a mammoth transfer fee of 60 million pounds to Oscar, making him the biggest signing of the Chinese Super League.

Not only Oscar, other big names like Hulk, Jackson Martinez, and Ramires have all made up their mind to ply their trade in China. Shanghai Shenhua have roped in veteran campaigner Carlos Tevez, which may be a smart move at this hour of his career, but the other transfers are a bit surprising as per Dutch footballer Arjen Robben’s verdict. “I do not understand players going tom China at the age of 27 or 28. Those guys are at the peak of their career. That is a waste really,” stated Robben on a radio station.

Though establishing China as a real powerhouse of football may look as the apparent reason for the huge spending, it is accompanied by another strong motive. The President of China Xi Jinping is a big football fan and an active member of this revolution. A Beijing-based football writer, writing for the Business Standard, quoted, “He wants the World Cup to come to China. Japan, its biggest rival, has hosted it and China hasn’t. This is all part of the bigger plan.”

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Japan have always been the better unit when compared to China in football, having qualified for five consecutive FIFA World Cups since 1998, and have held a respectable position in the World rankings. In comparison, China have qualified for the showpiece event only once, in 2002, where they failed to win any of their games and since then, they have pretty much gone off the radar.

It was the J-League in 1993 which had showed that Asia could also reciprocate the glitz and glamor of the much-celebrated leagues in Europe, and the likes of Gary Lineker and Dunga ensured that the stadiums were left with no empty seats. Such was the initial success that even a manager like Arsene Wenger set a foot on the Japanese soil to take charge of Nagoya Grampus Eight for a lone season in 1995-96.

Jack Ma, owner of multi-national company “Alibaba”, has a 37.8 percent stake at Guangzhou Evergrande, one of the most successful clubs in Asia in the recent past having won two AFC Champions League titles in 2013 and 2015. Football expert Novy Kapadia feels that adopting the “short-cut” way to make it big on the world stage may not reap fruitful results in the long run. Regarding this matter, he has said, “They must understand that clubs aren’t built overnight. Legacies and fan bases are set up during the course of a number of years. This is them just trying to flex their muscle.

Irrespective of such attempts by China, it has to be noted, are still a weak footballing nation when it comes to the International stage, and are lying in the 86 position as per the latest FIFA rankings. Their arch-rivals Japan are at the 52 spot while Iran are the top ranked Asian country at 32. Needless to say, to make a mark on World football, the development of the national team is of utmost importance as they are the ones to represent the nation on the biggest platform. It is only through the success of the national team that they can excel as a prospering football playing force in world football.

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