John Yan:龙哥听不到集结号 The Dragon will not hear the bugle call

 English version

张吉龙,人称"龙哥"。但这"龙哥"只是一个花名,连江湖绰号都算不上。他曾经是亚足联第一副主席,也曾经因缘际会,由于国际足联高层的权力斗争,而升级为亚足联代理主席、国际足联执委,但他从来都不是"龙哥",和龙头大哥的威势、前呼后拥的行头,相去十万八千里。行走在国际足球政治的江湖上,张吉龙谨小慎微、如履薄冰,在夹缝里为中国足球争取些利益,可他始终都是一个人在战斗。

张吉龙被"牺牲"、被"放弃竞选亚足联主席",新闻并不是从国内媒体产生的。消息最早由法新社披露,然后其他亚洲媒体跟进,最后才流转到中国国内。当网络舆情一片汹涌,对于这样的"牺牲"和"放弃",表达的不仅是不解,更是愤怒时,张吉龙已经在吉隆坡的亚足联总部收拾工作、收拾心情,虚席以待亚足联真正的主席主人了。他将回归到亚足联副主席的席位上,大概干到2015年任期期满。

体制内还有人羡慕乃至嫉妒张吉龙者——"他已经60岁了,本该退休,要不是他在亚足联有个职务,否则凭什么是他啊......"就退休年龄论,张吉龙比较其他体制内司局级干部,或许是幸运的,他能多干两年,只是这样的际遇,这样的含辛茹苦,这样的孤立无援,我不相信张吉龙会恋栈不去。

他却又不能随意归去。因为他仍然是体制内的干部,哪怕体制抛弃了他。

退选传闻在媒体间流传了几天,才有官方的认定。让张吉龙退选,并不是完全胡搅蛮缠、不可理喻。本哈曼倒台后,亚足联主席的这一任竞选,张吉龙是东亚足球联盟推举的代表,西亚有三个候选人,包括3年前曾经挑战本哈曼的萨尔曼,东南亚也有一个候选人。张吉龙的票数和实力,并不占优。

亚奥理事会的沙特法赫德亲王和中国体育当局者的交易,成为了坊间尽人皆知的"内幕"。法赫德告诉中国,张吉龙胜算不大。西亚三个候选者会在内部展开竞争,最后的胜利者将会得到所有西亚选票。东南亚也不会支持张吉龙。由是总局的判断,便是不去打这样一场无把握的战争,将损失降到最低。老成谋国。

两年前张吉龙孤身前往亚足联,接过本哈曼留下的一顶带血头盔。如今他终于可以放下这沉重的头盔。和两年前一样,他依旧孤独。

这是一种奇怪的体育政治现象,在几乎没有国际足球政治能量的中国足球界,能够在亚足联具备一定影响力的,只有张吉龙和张健强两人。后者因贪腐入狱,罪有应得,但张吉龙在亚足联十多年的风雨经历,从来都是一个人。他身后没有团队支持,他去入替下野的本哈曼时,在体制内的身份,只是国家体育总局对外交流中心的主任,和中国足球运动管理中心没有半分关系。他是体制内的干部,可体制的强大与实力,并没有为张吉龙增加多少话语权。

于是当利益出现冲突,足球和奥运项目间要做出一个选择时,领导选择了后者。后者是金牌,是荣耀,是为国争光,是顶戴花红。足球即便再得市场和公众欢迎,又能如何?

2001年世界杯预选赛抽签,中国队被分进了一个幸运之组。张吉龙居功至伟。《体坛周报》为分组出过一期号外,瞿优远定的头版头条为《上帝就是张吉龙》。这样一个标题确实抢眼,符合实情,让读者开心,可据说张吉龙后来看到这标题气坏了。

他不是一个足球专业出身的体育干部,不是"体育战线"尤其"足球战线"根正苗红的嫡系。《体坛周报》的头条,让这个从不高调的干部,身不由己地被高调了起来。此后十年,张吉龙做的事情仍然不少,和足协的距离却越来越远。哪怕幸运眷顾了中国足球,给了这个因为本哈曼离去而空出的亚足联主席席位,张吉龙也有足够的能力应对这个位置的挑战,可是在孤立无援的环境里,哪怕他竖起耳朵,也听不到那传说中的集结号。

龙哥安在?龙哥一直都在,集结号?一直都不存在。


English translation

John Yan: The Dragon will not hear the bugle call

Zhang Jilong is known as "Long Ge" (lit. "Big Brother Dragon" or the "Imperial elder brother") But this "big brother Long" is just a flowery name, as the roar of the rivers and lakes ["pugilistic world"] cannot be counted on.  At one time AFC First Vice-President, through fate and, due to the FIFA senior power struggle, he became the AFC Acting President and a FIFA executive committee member, but he has never been "Ge Long" and the power and influence of a big boss, in charge of a large retinue, belongs to a quite different galaxy.

Walking in the political arena of international football, Zhang Jilong was cautious, perpetually skating on thin ice, caught in the fight for Chinese football interests, but always a man in combat. The news of Zhang Jilong's "sacrifice", "to abandon the election for AFC President" was not generated by the domestic media. The news was first disclosed by Agence France-Presse, then other Asian media followed-up, before it finally flowed into the Chinese domestic media.

The response of public opinion to news of Zhang's "sacrifice" was more anger than puzzlement, whilst Zhang Jilong was already in AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur cleaning-up business and lightening the mood, his empty seat pending the arrival of the new president of the AFC.

He will return to the AFC Vice President seat, probably safe until the term of office expires in 2015.

Within the system there are those jealous of Zhang Jilong, who at 60 should be in retirement if it wasn't for his AFC duties. He may be lucky and do more than two years, I do not believe he will be able to stand down. He is not at liberty to return to his the birthplace because he is still a cadre within the system, even if the system has abandoned him.
The rumours of his withdrawal circulated in the media for a few days before the official confirmation.

Let Zhang Jilong withdraw from the election, surely it is entirely importune, ridiculous?

After the downfall of Bin Hamman, in the vote for the AFC President, Zhang Jilong is the representative of the East Asian Football Federation, West Asia has three candidates, including Salman, who challenged Hamman three years ago, and Southeast Asia also have a candidate. Zhang Jilong's strength in the voting would certainly not have been dominant. OCA Saudi Prince Fahd and the Chinese sports authorities, are close and  Fahd told China, Zhang Jilong had little chance of winning.  The three candidates from West Asia will compete internally, the final winner will get all of West Asia ballots.  Southeast Asia would not support Zhang Jilong. The general feeling was to minimise losses.

Two years ago, Zhang Jilong joined the AFC alone, taking up Hamman's bloody legacy. Now he can finally put down the heavy burde. As he was two years ago, he is still alone.

This is a strange political phenomenon of sport, with little or no political energies Chinese football, has had a certain influence in the AFC only through Zhang Jilong and Zhang Jianqiang. The latter was deservedly imprisoned for corruption, but Zhang Jilong with more than 10 years of AFC experience, has always been a man.

Without the support of a team behind him, he went to help out when bin Hamman stepped down, but he was just a cadre within the system and it was the system which had the right to speak, not Zhang Jilong.

So when there was a choice to be made, between football and the Olympic project, the leadership chose the latter. The latter brought gold medals and glory to the country but football takes long to reach public acclaim – what can be done?

In the draw for the 2001 World Cup qualifiers, the Chinese team was assigned to a lucky group and Zhang Jilong was paid great tribute.  For choosing the right numbers "Sports Weekly" even declared in its headline "Zhang Jilong is God". The title was eye-catching, in line with the facts, and made the readers smile, but  Zhang Jilong was furious to see this headline. He didn't come from a football professional sports cadre origin, not from sports and even less a football background. He was not of the high-profile cadre, but rather involuntarily found this high-profile.

After ten years, Zhang Jilong still has a lot to do and the Football Association is increasingly far away fromwhere it should be. Chinese football was lucky to ascend to the vacant AFC President's seat after the departure of Bin Hamman. Zhang Jilong had the ability to respond to the challenges of this position, but he was in an isolated environment, even if he listened carefully , he could not hear the roar of the crowd.

Is Big Brother Long at peace?

Does Big Brother Long still hear the roar of the crowd?

It has never been there.
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