All eyes were focused on the match, tagged as ‘The Fly to the Top of Asia’. Quite like the Party’s propoganda protocol, a bit like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…
On November 9 in Guangzhou, Evergrande were crowned the champions of Asia, grandly. Even though the official TV ratings figures didn’t prove this match attracted a dominant viewership nationally, go through any media outlet, the impression was on that night, nothing could compare to the club’s climb to the top of Asia.
Bayern and Ronaldinho, Beware! Chinese Tuhao are coming to party! And they will rock the world!
Apologies for introducing this word Tuhao without explanation – this is a new hot word coming out of social media in China. Tuhao used to mean the landlords whose land and assets had been confiscated by the Party after the revolution, nowadays, it means those dowdy loud over-night super rich Chinese, who normally travel with that golden symbol, the iphone5…
Just imagine Mike Ashley as a coal mine owner from Shanxi province. Guangzhou Evergrande is the latest representative of Tuhao. The second round of the Asian Champions League final did not meet the frenzy of anticipation beforehand, and went through in a very low key way. Marcelo Lippi, the Italian head coach, showed his calmness in controlling the team and had his players alert to the fierce counter attacking of their opponents, the admirable Seoul FC from South Korea.
It was not a beautiful final, but a 1:1 draw was good enough for Guangzhou to be champions after two rounds, with the first round 2:2. The Tuhao didn’t win the title by sweeping past the last opponent, however, it was still good enough for football supporters to enjoy themselves for a while.
Just a short while, though, as the national team is gathering again, and has two qualification matches in the Asian Cup. Not easy tasks, any team from Asia could be strong enemy for this national team.
The temporary head coach of the national team, Fu Bo, has made more funny comments in the media. He gathered all the Other international players, while they were training and waiting for the Other Grande China internationals in Xi’an, to watch the ACL final. The crowning of Evergrande would definitely be a boost for this national team, but to get the internationals to “learn and copy the great examples of Evergrande” would be some inappropriate statements from a head coach, even he was destined to be temporary.
In four short years time, Guangzhou Evergrande has evolved from a club being relegated to the second division, to one that is now the new Asian champions. The huge investment from Xu Jiayin, the owner of Evergrande real estate development company, is the major reason for the rise. The figure invested could be as much 2 billion RMB (about £220 million), and it has changed everything at the club, and possibly ever the outlook for China football.
XinWenLianbo, News Broadcast, the main news program of CCTV1, the tongue and throat of the Party, allocated more than 5 minutes in its 30 minutes program to do a preview of the final. This is only the second time that football jumped to the screen on that programme this year. Xu Jiayin will be living a dream now, as close to the status of a national hero as possible.
Overall, Evergrande’s success is widely regarded as the success of market power and a free economy. In contrast, the national team, still under the rigid and backward management of the CFA, a government branch, is still abysmal. Some media has been calling: ‘Let the Tuhao Save China Football’.
But as long as the CFA remains part of the Party organ, Tuhao will not find the right route to contribute to the national team.
John Yan is Deputy Editor of Netease.com. Contact him at moc.l1660275987iamg@16602759878002g1660275987naiqn1660275987ay1660275987, or on weibo at: http://weibo.com/1646270104/profile?topnav=1&wvr=5