Money isn't everything in success of nation's team
Updated: 2013-11-10 22:59
By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou and Lei Lei in Beijing (China Daily)
Experts say introducing professional approach key to Chinese soccer
Huang Bowen (16) of China's Guangzhou Evergrande celebrates with the national flag after winning the AFC Champions' League at Tianhe stadium in Guangzhou on Saturday. Bobby Yip / Reuters
Building a profound soccer culture and introducing a professional approach to club management — and not simply spending money to buy big-name players — are important to the future development of Chinese soccer, insiders said after big-spending Guangzhou Evergrande won the AFC Champions League on Saturday.
"A hefty investment in building a strong international squad and a professional approach to club management were major factors behind Evergrande's success in Asian soccer. But it is a hard example for all Chinese clubs to follow," said Xie Liang, a veteran soccer commentator with Radio Guangdong.
Guangzhou Evergrande rewrote the country's two-decade soccer history by winning the AFC Champions League with a 1-1 tie against South Korean champion FC Seoul on Saturday in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, because of the "away goals rule". Under the rule, the team that scores more goals away from home will win if the scores are otherwise tied.
The game drew huge attention nationwide — CCTV broadcast part of it live during Xinwenlianbo, the most-watched news program in China.
China last had a championship in 1990, when Liaoning lifted the trophy of the now-defunct Asian Club Championship.
Local real estate giant Evergrande took over the Guangzhou club three years ago and then started spending on building a strong team.
Besides getting many players who were on the Chinese national team, the Evergrande team introduced a number of international players and coaches — including South Americans Dario Conca, Muriqui and Elkeson, and World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi — over the past three seasons.
But despite Evergrande's success, simply pouring money into buying big international names in the domestic league will not help boost Chinese soccer development in the long term, soccer insiders said.
"The triumph of Evergrande in the Asian Football Confederation shows there's hope for China's soccer," Zhang Jilong, AFC senior vice-president, was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "The big investment from the club contributed a lot to China's soccer in recent years, but we can't say it's the only pattern of development for Chinese soccer."
Evergrande's big spending "might lead club sponsors to make unrealistic comparisons, which is not good to the healthy development of Chinese soccer. The example of Evergrande is exciting for China's soccer, but we have to calm down after the victory to see the pluses and minuses and seek reform. The impact of this single club should go to all Chinese soccer and society gradually."