Lippi the next head coach for Team China?
Three apology letters appeared at the same time, they were from China Football Association (CFA), the Team China management department of CFA, and Team China. All were apologising for the horrible defeat at home to Thailand on June 15.
Nine days had passed before these three serious apology letters appeared. On the same day, the CFA announced that “the cooperation between CFA and Mr. Camacho (China’s national coach) had ended according to mutual consent”. Camacho left for Spain and in his parting shot, he said he had tried to teach Chinese football “the meaning of competitiveness”.
On June 25, I was invited to participate in an emergency meeting at the CFA, for the future Team China head coach. For the first time, I met Mr. Zhang Jian, the current head of the CFA, who was appointed by the National Sport Administration six month ago. This is one of a series of emergency meetings held by the CFA recently, I was told, and this meeting was set up for a few media guys to express opinions.
Just some irrelevant opinions, as I knew the rules.
The sacking of Camacho, though the official announcement said “end of cooperation”, seemed to be part of the overall PR crisis management, but the news was leaked out 24 hour before the official announcement. The CFA was very angry, and wanted to find the moles inside the organisation. However, similar things will surely happen every time the CFA encounters crisis.
Football fans in China have stuck to their habit of attacking the “system” for the failures. The vehemence of the criticism of football has reached a stage that football has become the most democratic area in current China. It is impossible for the media to criticise openly a department of the central government, and football becomes the invaluable outlet of social frustration.
However, the meeting I was invited to, meant nothing for the real issue of next head coach of Team China. No chance would the media have of any real say on this appointment, and in my acknowledgement, not even the CFA can make that decision. They have to report to the NSA for approval.
Camacho was sacked because of the terrible 1:5 defeat to Thailand. CCTV5 tried pretty hard to get a parting interview with Camacho, to get some understandings from his 22 months duration in China. The requests fell on deaf ears.
And now we are talking about the next one, and besides the Thailand match, besides all the rumours that Camacho was not interested in China’s domestic league matches, Camacho was aloof and arrogant, we have no idea what the former head coach experienced. Media seems to be more interested in Camacho’s parting fee: some said €3 million had been agreed, some said that Camacho would send a top European lawyer over to get the €7 million pay out.
I am not sure for the moment that China should appoint another head coach immediately. There are no urgent challenges the national team face, except from the East Asian Championship. China was relegated from the qualification group matches for Brazil 2014 within three months of Camacho’s appointment. And the head coach of an international team has evolved more and more like a leader of the national team system, which means he would oversee the structure, tactical characteristics and personnel management of all age group national teams.
The latest rumor is Marcelo Lippi could be confirmed as head coach for Team China in November, when the CSL season ends. I sincerely hope this does not happen. The trouble with football in China lies in every aspect of the system, from grassroots all the way up to the extremely bureaucratic mismanagement of the CFA. There is no ground for any football coach to be a success on the national team level.
Marcelo Lippi could be the last straw on the camel’s back. If he fails, who else?
John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com