There was no actual sport on Friday February 7 in Sochi, but there was plenty of action, not least the opening ceremony, which kicked off at 20:14 local time. The Chinese team, led by figure skater Tong Jian, was described by one website as “reliably pleasant peppermint candies“. Here’s why:
Xi Jinping likes his soccer. So much so, in fact, that the game put him out of action for two weeks last year while he was playing with his staff, sparking rumors of a mysterious disappearance, according to the South China Morning Post. He also likes to talk about the beautiful game: way before his “Chinese Dream” became de rigeur, he had a soccer dream – that China would first qualify for, then host, and finally win, the World Cup.
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.