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Made in China. Why Chinese investments are just waste of money

Graziano Pelle China

Today China is one of the superpowers alongside Russia and USA. Asia’s largest country is powerful in everything: technology, economics, trade, sports… Only the fact that the number of professional weightlifters in the country (who are in China’s national team or are eligible to perform and compete in the Olympics) thrice exceeds the POPULATION of Armenia, for example, says it all.  A country with such indicators cannot stay out of the football world. For this reason, a special program was designed to develop the most popular sport in China.  However, we also need to realize that not every sport can be developed in that country. Trying not to fix on these incredibly high transfers, let us just figure out, and understand, why do they do this?


A special program to make football a compulsory subject at schools was introduced in China. A familiar situation, isn’t it? In Armenia chess was the same way made a mandatory subject. But this decision was made after reaching great achievements (Armenians won both World and Olympic Cups), also years ago Armenia had such a world champion as Tigran Petrosyan. This means that they have old traditions in this sport. Then what results has China achieved in football? Right, – 0. If there were an upper case 0 on the keyboard, it would definitely stand here. None of the Chinese footballers has left his trace in the world. We faced similar situation 15 years ago as well. FIFA decided that the World Cup must be held in South Korea and Japan to develop football culture in these countries. Most of us remember these results – it was the most corrupted and the worst World Cup ever, where even South Korea reached the semi-finals (!!!). In those days, people sitting in front of their TVs saw how the whole nation stood up and cheered the team as if they had loved football since childhood. So what? So what happened next? It seemed that such an incredible event would speed up the development of football there, but one month later no one remembered about that sport.

Before that, in 1990’s the Japanese J-League appeared in the Asian market. Just like the Chinese Super League, the J-League tried to attract all the popular footballers like Dragan Stojkovic, Patrick Mboma… But they failed to achieve the mass popularity they were trying to reach. No doubt, the same thing will happen in China.


After Zinedine Zidane moved from Juventus to Real Madrid, something changed in the world football. Because of the dollar-euro devaluation, several years later, Barcelona bought Andre Gomes for more than 50 million euros – almost the same amount that was paid for Zidane’s transfer to Real Madrid, but their levels aren’t even close to each other. Well, this happened only in Europe. Let’s take a look at the sums of money that Chinese Super League has paid, for example, for the young Oscar, or for the Ezequiel Lavezzi that doesn’t get any pleasure of playing football anymore. Madness…

We need to understand one thing here. It is impossible to artificially develop sports in a country that initially could not raise any interest within society. If we look at the case of Armenia, we will see that authorities are constantly attempting to develop winter sports such as skiing, alpine skiing, or even curling in the country. Nevertheless, no matter what the authorities do, parents will give their children to such sports clubs that are more suitable and have traditions behind as weightlifting, wrestling, chess or football. Of course, in Armenia the development of football does not occur hour by hour, but no doubt, that if there were certain investments like the Chinese ones, the process would have been much faster than in China.


The USA and some Asian countries tried to develop their football culture in different years. Let us try to remember what actually happened. First, USA. In the 1970’s it was decided to develop soccer: in the United States, football is called soccer because what we call football is a completely different sports out there. It attracted many outstanding players like Pele, Ziko, Beckenbauer and others, but just like in the past, despite involving names of many titled guys, soccer will never be a major and beloved sport, until there is American football, baseball and “the king” NBA. Now let’s go to Asia and finish. Turkey was moving forward a similar enormous program: they were inviting the most popular football stars. But they just ran away from that country, all of them, because they couldn’t ensure their safety. Then Qatar came out, which gathered all the veterans of football: Batistuta, Caniggia, West, Guardiola, Effenberg… However, Qatar’s football tale soon came to an end. Yes, in 2022 the World Cup will be held in Qatar, but it won’t change anything. And, finally, China. The same scenario can be observed here. Those who want to earn money will come and earn it without any effort and will return to Europe. If they actually return, of course.  It turns out that the Chinese football steals the opportunity to enjoy games of talented youth football players and makes it impossible to get the desired pleasure, though those footballers [that moved to China to earn money] are not “footballers” anymore because they prefer filling their pockets rather than playing football…