Alex Teixeira, Jackson Martinez, Ramires, Gervinho, Fredy Guarín, the list goes on: internationally capped players, worth millions of pounds, moving to Asia; specifically China – myself, like many others, pose the question to the sporting Gods, why? Well, here is my opinion…
Whether you like it or not, money nowadays plays possibly the biggest role in sport, especially football: players will not switch clubs for the quality or standard of football, perhaps the size of the pay packet – obviously this is not all footballers.
This is exactly what China, the richest country in the world, can offer; money, money and more money, as displayed in the signings of Liverpool target, Alex Teixeira when signed for £38,700,000 and Colombian striker, Jackson Martinez for around £25,000,000.
Many clubs that are considered “rich”in world football, are in fact owned, or financially backed by Chinese (or other Asian nationalities) investors. Perhaps, money that was going into football in Europe, may be, and as seen already, will be reinvested into Chinese football. Personally, as sad as it is, money is one of the biggest contributing factors in players decisions in football, therefore if Chinese football can sustain a high level of financial backing for the foreseeable future, then there is no reason why they can’t succeed and dominate world football.
£38.7 million pounds for Alex Teixeira, smashing the Chinese record transfer fee for the third time in 10 days.
- Presidential Backing
Last year, Chinese president, Xi was believed to have started his Chinese footballing revolution, stating he wanted to turn China into a “soccer powerhouse” (soccer is football for all normal people reading this). This statement wasn’t only a statement on intention, but also, in making this statement, Xi uncoupled the link, or lack of link, between China and football; previously football, a team sport, was looked down upon by the Government, however, now it seems that the Government themselves will be backing “soccer” all the way.
Xi’s reasons behind this are quite clear and open for discussion, interpret it however you wish: he has targeted improving the sports economy and obviously football is a way to do this. His masterplan includes; improving the national team’s abysmal, woeful record, gaining Olympic medals and quite clearly to develop the demand for football or “soccer” in China – yet, let me make this clear to the reader, there is quite obviously already a
President Xi (middle) during his trip to the UK, pictured at Manchester City’s training ground.
demand for football in China, as regularly teams like Evergrande and Beijing Gouan attract, on average, crowds of up to 40,000.To summarise, the President, who runs China, has developed an interest in football and therefore wants to improve everything to do with the sport in his country, from the quality of player to the income garnered from TV rights, a complete DIY (but not on his own) restoration of the Chinese league and football in general.
- Development of Homegrown Players
As aforementioned, the state of the Chinese national team is dreadful, woeful, embarrassing, it even lags behind the USA who are perhaps the Chinese league’s main source of competition outside of the European leagues.
To improve the national team, would mean a need for increase in standard, not only in the development of upcoming players but also the players they play with; players who play with better players are a hundred times more likely to improve than players who do not. To improve the game, the government, headed by Xi. has launched a scheme to get kids playing football at school and the target in 2017 is to have 20,000 schools playing the sport on a weekly basis. This is set to be expanded in a big way. Guangzhou has built what is purported to be the biggest soccer academy in the world (helped by Real Madrid) and the fact that there is more money coming into the game – such as from the new television
Chinese national football can only benefit from the substantial investments into the sport.
deal and increasing corporate interest – should feed through to local players further down the chain, making professional football an increasingly attractive option a decade from now. By that time, the league should be thriving.
By 2020, not only should China have some top quality footballers from abroad playing in their league, but also they should be mixing foreign talent with homegrown talent too. For example, China has the largest population in the world, therefore if tiny countries, in comparison to China, such as the UK, can produce global footballers then why shouldn’t a nation the size of China be able to too?
To conclude, football revolves around two main things, support, as in real support not financial (that’s the next bit); it will never succeed without people wanting to see it week in, week out. Money; football is a global sport, and ultimately, in many scenarios, the highest bidder wins, money will always do the talking, it is a perfect tool for enticing players in, and that is exactly what Chinese money can do. Once players have made the move to Asia, then more and more should follow, which potentially should lead the largest country in the world to be one of the largest footballing nations eventually.