China’s Struggling Soccer Program Won’t Field a Team in the 2010 World Cup

The Washington Post reports on China’s beleaguered soccer team:

China may be the world’s most populous country and its new sporting powerhouse — winning the most gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. But its prowess at soccer is lamentable. China is ranked 84th in soccer’s world standings, just ahead of Mozambique.

Chinese are huge soccer fans, and hundreds of millions are expected to tune in to the World Cup, with all the matches broadcast live here on free television. Sports bars will be packed. But the Chinese won’t have their own team to root for.

To add to the insult, even China’s neighbor, hermetic North Korea, has earned a trip to the World Cup this year. “We will cheer for North Korea because they are our neighbors,” said Wang Qi, whose company is selling tickets for Chinese fans to travel to South Africa. “They can’t even feed themselves, but they work harder than Chinese athletes.”

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