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Hard Times For Chinese Soccer

  • Reuters, Thursday, December 4, 2008 1:15 PM
Hard times have fallen upon Chinese soccer, writes Liu Zhen. "Failure for the national and Olympic teams has combined with continuing violence, protests, crime and allegations of corruption on the domestic front to confound the efforts of officials and clubs to arrest the decline of the game in China," he writes.

What he describes as "another miserable season" ended in underwhelming fashion at the weekend when Shandong Luneng claimed the Chinese Super League title with a goalless home draw. The game's negative image has led to declining gates and a struggle to attract investors, meaning several clubs face collapse. 2004 champion Shenzhen could be dissolved after its main investor announced he wants to offload the club after losing over $5 million running it the past three years. The league is short of cash too, while other teams have lost money due to repercussions from the global economic recession.

Meanwhile, what local media described as a massive "kung fu fight" broke out between Beijing and Tianjin players in November, causing state TV company CCTV to cease coverage of the league. "The CSL is a humiliation," one CCTV source said. "Soccer does nothing but damage to the excellent environment the Olympics has brought to China's sports." On-field brawls and fans attacking team buses are commonplace, while the game is also rife with rumors of match-fixing.



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