Weekly Wrap Pt 2: AFC elections, cycling, table tennis

China’s Zhang Jilong seeking permanent AFC role

May 2 could be a significant day in the Chinese football calendar. The Asian Football Confederation, or AFC, will elect a full-time president, and current interim boss, China’s Zhang Jilong, is among the favorites. Zhang has been head of the AFC since Mohamed Bin Hamann was suspended by FIFA in May 2011.


His likely contenders are:

  • Yousuf Al Serkal (UAE)
  • Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa (Bahrain)
  • Hafez Al Medlej (Saudi Arabia)
  • Hassan Al Thawadi (Qatar)

Kuwait has already backed Salman, who is also a member of the Bahrain ruling royal family, but Zhang’s best bet is to hope that the Arab vote is split and that he comes through the middle.

The biggest knock on Zhang – other than the fact that the Arabs may actually get their act together and elect one of their own – is the fact that he was finance committee chairman during Bin Hammam’s corrupt reign.

It’s a complicated process, driven purely by politics and power, and the end result could even see the new AFC head waiting two years to take up his place on the FIFA executive committee.

Tour of Hangzhou cancelled, Beijing moved forward

Mixed news for cycling fans in China. First the bad news: the inaugural Tour of Hangzhou, which had been due to make its World Tour debut in October last year, before being postponed for a year, has now been cancelled outright. Technically, it’s been “frozen” since “basic conditions for organizing a race at UCI World Tour level would not be met in the short term,” but clearly that doesn’t sound promising.

ImageOK I lied, there’s no good news, unless you count the fact that the 2013 Tour of Beijing will now happen start on October 11, five days earlier than originally planned, so Chinese cycling fans have five fewer sleeps before seeing their heroes again. #graspingatstraws

Ping pong most watched sport in China

ImageThe Chinese are known for being very patriotic, so what better way to please the sports watching public than to show hours and hours of something the Chinese do very, very well – table tennis!

Last year, 1,856 hours of ping pong were screened in China – more than any other sport – with 34 million tuning in to watch the all-Chinese final of the men’s singles at London 2012.

Chinese players won all four gold medals available for the second consecutive Olympics, not that surprising given that the top-four ranked men’s players and top-four ranked women’s players all hail from China.

For Part 1, including news that Beckham may play in China, see here.

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