Category Archives: Football

China deal makes sense for Beckham, but not for league

The speculation towards the end of last year that David Beckham would end his career playing in the Chinese Super League (CSL) just didn’t make any kind of sense – either for Beckham the player or Beckham the brand. He had offers from English Premier League clubs and from clubs in continental Europe who were still in this year’s UEFA Champions League. China was too far away from his family, who had already relocated from LA to London.

But Beckham’s proposed ambassadorial role promoting the CSL, which Xinhua reports is “almost certain” to happen, is – on the surface – far more bizarre, especially given that he is supposed to be starting this role imminently i.e. while still in Paris. You can just imagine the interviews:

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Back in the saddle: Becks helps set up a goal on his debut for PSG

French journalist: So David, great start to your PSG career on the weekend, but what I really want to ask you about is the Chinese Super League. Who’s the most promising young player in the league?

Beckham: Err…

French journalist: Well can you tell us your favorite team?

Beckham: Err…

etc.

Continue reading China deal makes sense for Beckham, but not for league

IMG: Beckham may still play in China

Speculation has appeared in Chinese media that All-World Superstar David Beckham will become an international ambassador for the Chinese Super League (see my earlier report here).

However, IMG, who are attempting to facilitate the deal, has told me that, contrary to reports, nothing has been confirmed at this stage, though negotiations are at an advanced stage (aren’t they always?).

That said, if the deal does get signed, IMG says Beckham may play in China after he has completed his five-month stint in France. They are also in discussions about his potential grassroots support – something China desperately needs – and Becks has experience in this area through his soccer schools – though, ominously, both his London and LA Academies have closed.

Continue reading IMG: Beckham may still play in China

Weekly Wrap Pt 1: Beckham/CSL, Sina/PGA, Red Bull/CBA, F1/no one…

Beckham to take up CSL role

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Becks doing what he does best

China may have lost out in the recent David Beckham sweepstakes, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. According to the Beijing Youth Daily, Beckham will become an international ambassador for the Chinese Super League, beginning this season.

Continue reading Weekly Wrap Pt 1: Beckham/CSL, Sina/PGA, Red Bull/CBA, F1/no one…

China’s 99%

The 99% claim has popped up twice in recent days in the context of Chinese sports, and both times there are less than convincing arguments.

Firstly, a Shanghai Shenhua club lawyer told Sina in reference to Didier Drogba’s contested move to Galatasaray in Turkey:

“We now have evidence which we believe will give Shenhua a 99% chance of winning a lawsuit at FIFA.”

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Unnamed legal sources tend to have a habit of exaggeration because they are anonymous –> untraceable –> unaccountable. But I’m pretty sure – 99% sure in fact – that Drogba’s own legal team would have made sure there is a water tight case for breach of contract by Shenhua (presumably for unpaid wages) before he moved to another club.

Continue reading China’s 99%

More incisive analysis on China’s match-fixing scandal

My article for Beijing Cream about the soccer match-fixing penalties handed out in China this week:

The latest penalties in China soccer’s match-fixing drama have been a long time coming – several players, officials and referees were already sent to prison last year – but as announced Monday, they were still fairly significant. In summary:

  • Shanghai Shenhua stripped of the 2003 league title
  • Two teams docked 6 points each going into next year
  • One team docked 3 points
  • Three teams fined 1 million yuan
  • Four teams fined 500,000 yuan
  • Five teams’ registration annulled
  • 33 individuals banned for life (eight players, seven CFA officials, four refs, 14 club/league officials)
  • 25 individuals banned for five years (seven players, three league officials, 15 assorted club officials)

A few things stand out. First, a reminder that long before the failed Drogba-Anelka experiment, Shenhua used to be quite good. Yes, they bought the title in 2003 (though quite why they had to fix a game against the now-defunct Shaanxi Guoli, a club that finished bottom of the league by eight points that year, is beyond me). But prior to 2011, the club had finished outside the top six just three times in 29 years. Their last two finishes? 11th and 9th.

Continue reading More incisive analysis on China’s match-fixing scandal

Weekly Wrap: Football, football, table tennis and more football

Huddersfield Town in China farce

This is just ridiculous. English football club Huddersfield Town has announced plans to “make its first foray into China as part of the Club’s wider International Development plan.”

From what I can work out from their convoluted press release, the club, who currently sit 18th in the Championship (i.e. near the bottom of English football’s second tier) are taking a delegation of businessmen to China for a week in April to explore opportunities because, you know, everyone loves football.

Continue reading Weekly Wrap: Football, football, table tennis and more football

Manchester United’s Chinese cash cow

Hong Kong’s lucky, lucky football fans will catch a glimpse of Manchester United’s triallists, youth team players and kit men on July 29th when they play Kitchee FC at Hong Kong stadium.

Hong Kong’s reigning champions announced the news this week with Man Utd club ambassador Peter Schmeichel making all the right noises about it being a serious game and an important part of the club’s pre-season plans, so fans, he said, should snap up tickets fast.

Those tickets, which go on sale later this month, will be priced between HK$390-990 (with students and old folk eligible for a slight reduction). That’s a lot of money to see a team that won’t resemble anything like the Manchester United the fans all know.

Continue reading Manchester United’s Chinese cash cow

What’s next for Chinese football?

Here’s my weekly Sports Talk column from the Global Times, entitled “Star exits don’t matter in bigger picture”

With all the negative headlines surrounding the recent departures of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, it is important to keep some perspective about where this leaves Chinese soccer.

Was it disappointing? Yes, but their exits came as no surprise. The pair had long been rumored to be on their way out, and they are hardly the first foreign players to have left before fulfilling their contracts.

It is far more embarrassing, though, for the club and its flamboyant owner, Zhu Jun, an Internet entrepreneur whose ambitions appear to have wildly outsized his bank balance.

Continue reading What’s next for Chinese football?

Soccer match-fixing villains: ringleaders of Asian origin

Mafia bosses, triads, kungfu gangs, invisible ninjas, Samurai swordsmen. Presumably that’s what Europol meant it said “ringleaders of Asian origin” had conspired to fix nearly 700 soccer matches for illegal betting gains. Europe’s police unit was woefully light on details when it announced the news this week so we can only speculate about what exactly has taken place.

Singapore’s Dan Tan, for whom Interpol has issued an arrest warrant, appears to be the major villain of the piece, but Singaporean police have said he’s as good as innocent, so don’t hold your breath.

Is anyone shocked by the match-fixing charges? The biggest surprise to me is that only 2 million euros in corrupt payments were alleged to have been made. Sure, that’s not an insignificant amount of money, but spread out over 680 matches, it’s an average of 2,940 euros per fixed game. Each game has at least one lead actor, but in many cases, two, three, four or more players will be ‘on the take’ and that doesn’t leave a whole load of euros to go around.

Continue reading Soccer match-fixing villains: ringleaders of Asian origin