Despite having 1.3 billion candidates, China still cannot yield a decent football team. The Chinese national football team is notorious for disappointing fans who fervently love the beautiful game. Highlights in the last decade included a World Cup appearance in 2002, and making it to the final of the 2004 Asian Cup (which they lost to Japan).
The last few years have been a rather lacklustre time for the team. Since 2011 they’ve lost ten of their nineteen matches. When the team were humiliatingly defeated by Uzbekistan on June 6, a team so unexceptional that tiny Hong Kong was able to keep them at bay, players publicly apologised.
While a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands is not exactly surprising, press reaction to the June 11 game is indicative of the Chinese team’s reputation, as reporters castigated the Dutch for failing to beat China by a higher margin.
Obviously fans are growing tired of the mediocre results that their team has been offering lately. Danwei reports that the team is now so unloved that there were no fans and only a few journalists to greet them upon their arrival at a hotel in Heifei. Hotel staff however did provide the athletes with some flowers, but they were probably just being polite.
Thankfully the sad state of Chinese football is an issue that Xi Jinping is taking a personal interest in. During his recent overseas trip to the Americas, in a speech to the Mexican congress Xi “promised to revive Chinese soccer” and to advance his dream “for China to qualify for another World Cup, to host a World Cup and to win a World Cup.”
Since China failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Xi’s dream will have to wait at least another 5 years.
[Image credit: Patrick Keogh]