On January 21st, 2014, the newly elected President of Chinese Football Association (CFA), Cai Zhenhua said in his inauguration speech that “me administrating foot ball might be embarking on a ‘non-returning road’. Why? Because Cai is regarded as the “God Father” of ping pang (table tennis) in China.
If he’s not considered “appropriate” for this position, why don’t they elect anyone in football to the presidency? The reason is surprising: Cai is the only nominee. All of the odd things, if you look at them closely with history and context, they are not so odd anymore. CFA has a infamous reputation of being a slam of bribery scandals and corruptions. From the beginning of February, 2012, a storm of cleaning up covered through Chinese football. Up to the head of Football Administration Centre, down to individual players involved in bribery and other scandals, have been sentenced in jail, paying penalty or restriction from football. The discovered result list was shocking: personal bribery at most about 1.3 million yuan (over 1 million €). All of the decision of these cases were made by one or two times of bribery, however, people believe there must be more. Commentators redeem the sentences, no matter to individual or to clubs, comparing to treatment of similar cases in football leagues in other countries, were too slow, too much lighter that thorough cleaning-up was to be achieved. There’s a prevailing opinion that, just as once in The Economics Gady Epstein explained “lead back to the same conclusion: the root cause is the system.” The supervising body of CFA is CFA itself. Despite continuing debate, Chinese football fans choose to stay optimistic and hope-preserving. Now, Chinese football with “a heart full of hope” welcomes its new leader, a former ping pang legend. Is this the dawn of Chinese football?
Cai was a extraordinary ping pang player a few World Table Tennis Championships laureate, a legendary ping pang trainer. Under his command, the Chinese ping pang national team achieved all gold medals in Sydney Olympic games and World Table Tennis Championships in 2001. Apparently he is also a good administrator: in 2009, he was elected as the president of Chinese Badminton Association, in the same year, he was also elected as the president of Chinese Table Tennis Association. Although he has too many glorious achievements in ping pang, he’s not a green-hand in football. He’s reported as a very good “gold left foot” player and a fan of technical style football. This year, he became president of 3 sorts of sport in Chinese Association.
At the end of his inauguration speech, Cai said: “From today on, perhaps I really have embarked on a ‘non-returning road’. I have no other choice but to keep going. Everybody has a football dream. I don’t paint a perfect picture of my football dream, but I believe the final goal can be achieved. Perhaps I can’t achieve the goal with all of you, but I am willing to pave the way for you. If the space dream can be realised by an ancient legend of immortal flying to the moon, it is not impossible for Chinese football reach our DREAM. There will be one day, when we are able to finally stand on the world-level football stage.”
As President Xi Jinping said, we also want to say: we are waiting for that day.
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