Think soccer beyond the money and glamour

Updated: 2016-07-29 07:57

By Airaldo Piva(China Daily)

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Think soccer beyond the money and glamour

Pupils play football in the 1st School Football Culture Festival of Xiangban Primary School in Fuzhou, the capital of Southeast China's Fujian province, on May 20, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

In recent weeks the global media have been invaded by news or just rumors about Chinese billionaires buying controlling stakes in European soccer clubs and acquiring top European players to play in the Chinese Super League.

The latest supposed deal is about buying the majority stake in A.C. Milan, one of the most prestigious and successful European clubs, by Chinese investors. This follows the acquisition of about 70 percent shares of Inter Milan, another leading European club by the Nanjing-based Suning Holding Group. According to some data, since last year Chinese companies have invested more than $1.7 billion in sports, the majority of it in soccer.

For Europeans, this sudden and big appetite of Chinese investors for soccer business has not come as a big surprise because huge Chinese investments have already flowed into other sectors. But soccer is different from technology, fashion brands or company assets. It is part of culture, tradition and education where shortcuts are not allowed.

This year, during my frequent stays in China, I decided for the first time to watch some Chinese Super League matches. I have to confess that sometimes I got bored and had the strong desire to leave the stadium before the games ended. Lower technical levels, poor possession skills and weaker physique of the players, or the inexperience of the coaches cannot fully explain the disappointment of so many Chinese soccer fans.

"Kick everything with one leg" is a suitable Chinese expression. It means one person doing everything by oneself, from the smallest to the biggest task.

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