The news that French football manager Alain Perrin (pictured below) has been appointed to lead the Chinese national team has caught most of the media by surprise, with my thoughts summarized in this Beijing Morning Post article (Chinese).
“Reggie”, as he was known in the UK – after the hapless TV character Reginald Perrin – when he briefly managed Portsmouth in the Premier League nearly a decade ago, seems to have lost his way and it is highly unlikely that he can get his career back on track in China.
It used to be that sports were run by sportsmen and women. But then, as is often the case, money got in the way and sports became more “professional”, so “professionals” were hired to run the sports.
For example, the head of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) used to be former star Chinese player Xu Yinsheng, until he was replaced in 1999 by a “professional”, an electrical engineer called Adham Sharara. The Egyptian-born Canadian also played on the national team for three years, but his biography makes it clear he is a career administrator who played, rather than top player-turned-administrator.
15 years later, Sharara is still in charge and coming out with gems like this:
I’ve just spent a few days in Korea, where the country’s female golfers are perhaps as dominant on the world stage as any team in sports today. Comparing different teams in different sports brings to mind apples and oranges, but 35 of the world top 100 players are from a country with a population of under 50 million. South Koreans have won six of the past eight major championships, and came second in the other two.
What do they get for this? “Boring”, “faceless”, “robots”, “predictable” etc. Inbee Park has won three majors this year and gets fewer column inches than Hunter Mahan’s new baby. Today’s Sports Talk column looks at why sports stars might be better off striving for one level below perfection: become perfect and the fans and media will turn on you – or worse – just ignore you.
In this week’s round-up, Taiwan takes centre stage on the world sporting map, golfing teen sensation Guan Tianlang explores America, the most ludicrous claim you’ll hear this decade and a hot sporting WAG.
Yao Ming is sadly no longer with us. The seven-week-old giraffe in Houston named after the Chinese NBA star was put down after a month-long bone infection couldn’t be treated. Sorry for leading with a tearjerker – I promise the other stories will be more cheerful!
Citizenship is always an issue in China, or more specifically, changing your citizenship. For one thing, you tend to need a lot of money. Chinese movie stars have taken up residence in other countries and faced accusations of being a traitor, but crossing borders in the sports world can be even more controversial.