Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why not China?

Why China fails at football

Little red card
The telling reasons why, at least in football, China is unlikely to rule the world in the near future

The Buddha tells the people he can fulfil only one of their wishes. Someone asks: “Could you lower the price of property in China so that people can afford it?” Seeing the Buddha frown in silence, the person makes another wish: “Could you make the Chinese football team qualify for a World Cup?” After a long sigh, the Buddha says: “Let’s talk about property prices.” ...

See the complete article here, courtesy of The Economist.

Kicking Back Comments: An interesting read as to why China is failing at football on the worlds stage. A question I continue to ask is, if a country does not have a viable team, do they have viable referees? Which comes first the teams, or the referee, or are they necessarily tied together to accede together on the worlds stage?


  1. Thanks for this post, which caught my eye!

    In general, I would have to go along with the "symbiosis" school of thought whereby the standard of football teams (in a country's top league) is associated with the standard of match officials (who are invariably appointed to those league matches). In Asia for example, match officials from Japan, Australia and South Korea are well respected and of very good standard but then again so are the standards of their respective leagues (J-League, A-League and K-League). This is probably mainly due to the country's FA and their management structure. The more successful a country's football league is (and to some extent, the national team), the more funding, proportionately, is available for development in other sectors of the FA including the development of referees. Generally speaking.

    Incidentally, here are the FIFA world rankings: Japan (19), Australia (23) and South Korea (32). These figures would support the "symbiosis" school of thought.

    However, you do get outliers. Ravshan Irmatov, Asia's top referee for four consecutive years (and also arguably the best referee in the world at present), hails from Uzbekistan and what do we know of the standard of Uzbek football? Well, not much; it is ranked 75th. China is ranked four places above Uzbekistan at 71. And what of referees in China? Although generally speaking there is corruption almost everywhere in China, in recent times I would guess that there is relatively less corruption in the property sector compared with the China Super League! There are of course other factors involved that either help or inhibit the growth and development of referees.

    IMHO, Ravshan Irmatov should be an inspiration and role model to any young referee in any league in any part of the world!

    These are just my initial thoughts that came to mind after reading your provocative post. Thanks again.

  2. HKRef,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments.

    I agree with you generally, and specifically regarding Irmatov. He is an outstanding official and one that is an exceptional role model.

    In delving a bit deeper, this is a double edged sword for referees. They can be lucky enough to be in a well developed (football) country with thriving professional leagues (UK is a good example), or be lucky enough to be "discovered" if they do not have such an organization under them (Irmatov is an example here). Outside of these, I am dubious FIFA is finding all the best talent.

    On a personal level, this is how I got my start into the professional leagues here in the US. If I was not close to Foxboro (MA) stadium where the NE Revolution (MLS) play, I would likely never have been a professional league referee as there were (and I would further opine are still) no "referee scouts" that can cover a country.

    As you said however there are outlying data points. In the US case it would be Terry Vaughn. There is not much by way of pro soccer out in Iowa and for Terry to be "discovered" I think is amazing unto itself. He certainly has demonstrated his mettle on the FIFA list for some time now, and is a clear indication that good referees are "everywhere", not just near MLS stadia, or in developed (football) countries.

    Excellent analysis as I have come to expect from you in reading your blog!

    Best Regards,