February 15 – The head of the Chinese FA has been arrested on corruption charges in a massive blow to the country’s reputation and efforts to grow its international standing, including potentially launching a World Cup bid.
A one-sentence statement from the ruling Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog body said Chen Shuyuan had been placed under investigation for “serious law and discipline violations”, with no other details about the accusations against him.
China’s president Xi Jimping has been at pains to turn China into a global footballing superpower but the national league has lurched from one crisis to another despite eye-watering salaries being paid to attract foreign talent. Government has subsequently cracked down on what it regarded was profligate spending on overseas players and Chinese investors moving money into foreign countries to buy high-priced clubs.
Nevertheless, China retained an international football ambition though pulled out of hosting the 2023 Asian Cup citing issues around covid. The season the Chinese Super League will return for the first time in three years to a schedule that sees games played home and away.
Chen was elected CFA president in 2019 but under the 66-year-old’s tenure, the men’s national squad has shown no sign of improvement.
The national team has seen a succession managers come and go while domestically a number of clubs at all levels, including eight-time Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou FC, are facing severe financial difficulties with some even going bust. In March 2021 Nanjing-based Jiangsu FC, owned by Chinese retail conglomerate Suning, was disbanded just three months after winning their first title.
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