Why China Isn’t At The World Cup
Forbes has written about why Chinese soccer teams stink. Still, why couldn’t China, with a population of 1.3 billion and the financial, engineering and technological resources to “make” the 2008 Olympics “happen”? Why couldn’t the world’s third-largest economy was the winner of 51 Olympics gold medals at the Beijing Olympics (second-place U.S. had 36 gold medals) field just 11 quick-on-their-feet men to win a series of qualifying matches over the likes of Qatar or Indonesia and then fly to South Africa this June and do battle with Brazil or Germany?
Even ordinary Chinese sensed there was something lacking with the entire national soccer program when the Chinese soccer team qualified for its one and only World Cup appearance in 2002, and then failed to score one goal in three games.
…I am reminded by the seriousness (worship?) accorded soccer in other countries–especially when I visited Brazil for the first time. At the Sao Paulo airport immigration line there were TV monitors showing soccer matches and analyses by long, pontificating pundits called “soccer journalists.” I am no such soccer expert, so as an amateur, let me review four points often touted as reasons why soccer has not been as successful in China compared to other countries.
Chinese soccer fans have of course been hugely disappointed by the Chinese team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup. An old Chinese joke currently bouncing around Beijing makes light of their soccer frustrations:
Preparing for the World Cup, the South Korean soccer team coach prays to God and asks:
“Dear God, when will Korea win the World Cup?”
God thinks for a long time and then replies:
“In 100 years.”
The coach bursts into tears. He will never live to see that glorious day, he moans.
Then the Japanese soccer team coach prays to God and asks:
“Dear God, when will Japan win the World Cup?”
God thinks for a very long time and then replies:
“In 200 years.”
The Japanese coach begins to cry:
“I will never live to see that day.”
Then the Chinese soccer team coach prays to God and asks:
“Dear God, when will China win the World Cup?”
God thinks for a really long time.
Finally, God bursts into tears.
“Even I won’t live to see that day!”
But some people in China are celebrating the World Cup, AFP reports:
The vuvuzelas providing the ear-splitting soundtrack for the World Cup in South Africa are proving a gold mine for manufacturers in China and a hit with buyers in the Asian nation.
Sales of the braying plastic horns both in China and other parts of the world have soared, with manufacturers struggling to keep up with demand and supplies selling out on some Chinese websites.
China’s state-run Global Times said nearly 90 percent of South Africa’s vuvuzelas — whose bee-swarm buzz at World Cup matches has triggered complaints from fans, players and broadcasters alike — are produced in China
Also, from XInhua: “Bittersweet time for Chinese soccer fans.“