China’s Soccer Babe, Liu Wen Wen / Photo from Hudong
Now that the World Cup is over (sorry Netherlands), Chinese football fans are floating around the idea that maybe China should host one of these events – not only is it a natural succession to hosting the Olympics and the World Expo, it would guarantee a spot for China’s team, which didn’t even come close to making it this year.
Speaking from a street interview in Cape Town, the chairman of the Chinese Football Association, said that China would definitely make a successful bid for a future World Cup… one day.
“China is bound to hold World Cup one day,” he allegedly told the Qilu Evening News. “But not in my tenure.” Even if it were to start bidding, the closest year China would be able to bid for would be 2026. Still, he added that while China’s football team had a whole bunch of problems, they were nothing that couldn’t be fixed in the next generation.
“The football league in South Africa has the familiar woes three years ago as we suffer now in China,” he added, “match-fixing scandals and illegal gambling were also rampant in South Africa before a Swedish manager was introduced to launch a thorough reform”
Chinese football super league will face a series of overhauls next year, Wei told media but no details were reported.
It’s no doubt that if China did host the event, they’d have no trouble at all filling stadiums. Despite not having a great team, China has the largest population of football fans in the world. But is that really enough to warrant the cost of a huge event like this?
As one opinion piece in Chengdu stated (translated by China Daily:
Although it is illogical to say China qualifies as a World Cup host, it is easy to take advantage of football fans’ passion for the game to promote China’s candidature as a World Cup host.
The 2008 Beijing Games has failed to spread the Olympic spirit among the public or provide sports and other facilities for people to get regular exercise. The high cost of medicines and healthcare is still a big problem for most of the people in China.
The $50 billion or so required to host the World Cup can instead be used to solve more pressing livelihood problems of the people. Aren’t the lessons of the Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo eloquent enough to persuade us to move away from playing host to such galas?
Tian Wei, the host of “Dialogue” on CCTV’s English channel, agreed somewhat, pointing out:
At the end of the South African World Cup, some in South Africa believed that “the value of the change in perceptions of this country and the continent will have been priceless.”
Two years ago, when the Beijing Olympic Games came to an end, that was also the message being expressed. It seems that the job has already been done to change the stereotype and misperceptions others had about China for centuries.
But she did a quick 180, ending with the line, “China should bid to host the World Cup, not for face, money, or compliments, but the sheer joy of the Chinese people.”