Paralympic action starts today in Sochi with China’s 10-strong contingent looking to claim the country’s first ever Winter Paralympic medal. Five of the 10 form the curling team, which finished third at the World Championships in both 2012 and 2013, so a medal is a definite possibility. The other five are cross-country skiers: no red hot favorites, but results have been improving and a podium finish is not out of the question.
Lots of soccer news at the moment…
As per the excellent Wild East Football, China has accepted an invitation into the 2015 Copa America in Chile, as one of Conmebol’s two regular guest slots. No one will be expecting much from the Chinese, but competing at this level can only help the country’s quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Guangzhou Evergrande’s recent Asian Champions League victory gave Chinese soccer fans something to smile about again, even if the national team – comprised of many of those same Evergrande players – has yet to follow suit.
The ACL win gave Guangzhou entry into this year’s FIFA Club World Cup – a tournament in which, essentially, the UEFA Champions League winners get another meaningless trophy. Continue reading Rare FIFA wisdom for Chinese soccer
[UPDATE: It’s not disaster for China just yet, but things most definitely did not go their way this evening. Having tied Saudi Arabia 0-0 in Xian, news came through that Iraq had won 2-0 in Indonesia, so Iraq is now two points behind China for the final qualifying berth in their group with one game to play. That game? Iraq vs China, to be played in Dubai on March 5, is now winner takes all, though China would of course qualify if it was a draw.
Despite taking the first set 6-2, Li Na lost the final of the WTA Championships in Istanbul (the last before the end-of-season showpiece moves to Singapore next year), as world number one Serena Williams won the next two sets 6-3, 6-0. It was Serena’s 11th title of the year, and her 10th win in 11 games against Li Na, but after going into the game as a massive underdog, Li can be happy she at least forced a third set. Crucially, she now moves up to 3rd in the world rankings – a career high – by leapfrogging both Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska.
The team behind the excellent Wild East Football blog on Chinese soccer do such a comprehensive job that, Beckham aside, I don’t often get around to focusing on what is still China’s most popular sport. But the farce that is China’s national team appears to have hit a new nadir. You might assume at this point that the only way is up, but with 114 teams currently ranked below China, there’s still plenty of room to underperform their own abysmal standards. Here is today’s Sports Talk column:
They say it’s always darkest before the dawn, but Chinese soccer appears to be in a permanent blackout. Lurching out of the shadows of match-fixing and corruption, the national team stumbles from one defeat to the next.
Since I submitted this week Sports Talk column yesterday evening, I’ve seen a fair amount of talk on the same issue of money ruining sports: the Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson arguing that Bayern’s UEFA Champions League win kills the dreams of many teams, and Tom Byer lamenting Bayern buying up Dortmund’s players, while Barcelona – another club that supposedly prides itself on its youth development – spends countless millions on Neymar, recently named the world’s Most Marketable athlete.
Here in China, Guangzhou’s – or more specific Evergrande’s – millions are fast making the CSL an annual foregone conclusion. Continue reading Money makes the world go round – but is ruining sports
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.