August 27 – In a reshuffle at the top of Chinese football during the 11th membership congress of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), Chen Xuyuan, former president of Shanghai International Port Group which owns China Super League team Shanghai SIP, was elected as the FA’s new president.
He will get support from a few notable vice presidents including Sun Wen, who in 2002 captained China’s national women’s team and won the FIFA women’s world players of the year award. She also played two seasons with the Atlanta Beat. Currently, she is the director of the CFA’s youth department.
Other new CFA vice presidents include FIFA Council member Du Zhaocai, and Gao Hongbo a former coach of the Chinese men’s national team. A new 35-member executive committee was also formed with representatives from CSL clubs, media, schools, local football associations and other stakeholders.
“The CSL and lower leagues have been rapidly developing in recent years, but our professional leagues are still facing a huge crisis,” said Xuyuan to local media. “The healthy development of professional leagues is the cornerstone of Chinese football. Clubs need to be financially independent. We are far from that. The owners have invested a lot but earn little back, and some lower league clubs are on the edge of bankruptcy.”
“I realised this to be detrimental to Chinese football when I was at Shanghai SIPG, and I felt more anxious about this while preparing for the CFA election in the past three months.”
“I think in the future, the CSL and the CFA will be partners. As long as we make the rules clear, there won’t be much conflict between the two and our professional leagues will be able to develop themselves better.”
In 2015, China reformed its football with the express goal of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. The CSL took off with eye-catching transfers and huge investments from owners. The CFA pumped money into the grassroots and former Italy manager Marcello Lippi was appointed as head coach of the national team. At the Asian Cup in January China reached the quarterfinals where their talented but underperforming team were eliminated by Iran.
In September China will start their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign against the Maldives.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1569033487labto1569033487ofdlr1569033487owedi1569033487sni@o1569033487fni1569033487