Taking a look at the Chinese football league

28 Apr

China’s football (soccer for you North Americans) league has been getting some attention in recent seasons and things seem to be looking up as attendances have been rising and league champion continues to impress in Asia. One of the main reasons is the amount of big money that’s being put into some of the clubs, many of which are owned by property magnates who seem to be emulating their counterparts in Europe, specifically those oil sheikh and Russian and American billionaires who own Premier League clubs. As a result, big-name players have moved to China in the last 2 seasons, including former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, ex-Barcelona star Seydou Keita, and others like Yakubu,Nicolas Anelka and some South American stars. One of the biggest names was Lucas Barrios, who moved to Guangzhou Evergrande from the German Bundesliga’s Borussia Dortmund last season at the peak of his career at 27. The Paraguayan striker played in the 2010 World Cup for his country. Unfortunately his career at Evergrande hasn’t been so smooth as this Spiegel article mentions. There’s a little bit of regret from Barros and he still has a soft spot for his former club. However it doesn’t actually say why he doesn’t like it at Guangzhou, except that he’s unhappy, and the article specifically says he doesn’t even mention his club.

The article gives a good overview of the major investment put into the football league, especially in Evergrande, whose coach Marcello Lippi led Italy to their 2006 World Cup. The major concern is whether this investment is sustainable and can be maintained in the future. The article also says David Beckham got US$2 million to become an ambassador for China’s football league, which saw Beckham visit China recently for a few days to make some public appearances. Beckham didn’t say he got any money so it’s notable the article states he got so much.

In the Asian Champions’ League, Guangzhou Evergrande is the only Chinese team to qualify for the knockout stage already, while Beijing Guoan and Guizhou Renhe still have a chance. Jiangsu Sainty unfortunately will likely not make it after a 2-0 loss left them bottom of their group with just one game to go.

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