Chinese sports authorities vow to punish corruption in soccer and other fields

Chinese sports authorities vow to punish corruption in soccer and other fields

12 Mar 2023 ( Global Times )

Chinese sport authorities have been conducting a profound reflection on the problems that have emerged in soccer and other fields, said the Director of the General Administration of Sports Gao Zhidan in an interview on Sunday, vowing “to cure sickness with powerful medicine” in a high-profile anti-graft storm. 

Gao made the remarks when responding to the current problems facing the development of the three major ballgames (soccer, basketball and volleyball) at an interview at the two sessions’ ministers’ passage.

He admitted that for a longer period of time, China has not developed as well as it should in these three major sports, especially in the men’s game. “The level of Chinese men’s soccer has even gone all the way down, and there are many chaotic situations within the domestic soccer,” he noted.

“This situation is in stark contrast to the demands and expectations of the Party and the people,” Gao said. “The level of Chinese teams in these three major sports must be improved, which is a sign of a leading sports nation.”

For a period of time, “we have been reflecting deeply, studying ways and means to solve the problems in soccer, ready to carry out ideological education, organization restructure and deepening reform,” he said. 

Chinese soccer has been recently in the eye of a fierce anti-graft storm. Since the investigation of Li Tie, former head coach of China men’s national soccer team in November 2022 for serious violations of the law, a number of players, managers and officials have been put under investigation, including president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) Chen Xuyuan, former secretary general of the CFA Liu Yi and executive vice secretary general of the CFA, head of the national team management department Chen Yongliang, and Wang Dengfeng, former vice president of the CFA.

Gao stressed that the Chinese sports community should be determined to “cure sickness with powerful medicine,” severely punishing corruption, gambling and match-fixing in soccer. “We must improve the system, fix the rules and comprehensively repair and reconstruct the good ecology of the healthy and sustainable development of the three major sports, ” Gao said.

To achieve a breakthrough in Chinese soccer, “We need to sink our hearts and minds into promoting the healthy development of school soccer, and solidify the foundation of reserve talent. We have to give more support and guarantee to social soccer in terms of policies, funding and talent development, and continuously improve the soccer competition system and professional league system.”

The mentality of quick success and quick profit must be discarded in order to revitalize Chinese soccer, he said.

Soccer, basketball and volleyball are games with a large participation bases and significant social influence, which are loved by the people, especially the younger groups, he said.

The level of Chinese teams in these sports is not just about winning or losing, but also reflects the spirit of collectivism and touches patriotic feelings, Gao said. 

Historically, China’s national teams of soccer, basketball and volleyball, especially the women’s teams, have achieved consistently strong results around the world. 

The Chinese women’s soccer team has won the Asian Cup for nine times, and has once won the second place in the World Cup. The Chinese women’s basketball team has also won medals in the Olympic Games and World Championships in the 1980s and 1990s, and won the runner-up in the World Cup in 2022, demonstrating a good momentum of continuous progress and development. The Chinese women’s volleyball team, hammered out in hard trials and tribulations, has won the world championship 10 times in the three world competitions, and has won the honor for the motherland. 

Their struggle and hard work have inspired generations of Chinese people to strive for the realization of the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, Gao said.