为什么中国会败在足球上?Why China fails at football

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Little red card

小小红牌

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

至少在足球上,本文阐述为什么中国不可能在不久将来主宰世界的原因。

 

THE pass back to the goalkeeper seemed routine for Qingdao Hailifeng FC in its match against Sichuan FC in September 2009, even if the ball was struck a little too hard and the keeper only just managed to stop it running past him and into the net. Qingdao was safely ahead 3-0 with two minutes left in a meaningless match in China’s second division. What could be amiss?

2009年9月,青岛海利丰对阵四川的比赛中,球回传守门员看起来一个很普通的动作,即使回传力量稍微大了一点,守门员也可以稍微费点力气去救球而不让球滚进网窝。在这场无关大局的中国乙级联赛比赛中,离比赛结束还有2分钟时,青岛以3:0领先。这里面会有什么猫腻?

 

Then a Qingdao assistant coach gestured for the keeper to come forward from the penalty area. Another Qingdao player promptly chipped the ball over him and towards the net, missing an own goal by inches. The final whistle blew soon afterwards.

这时一名青岛助理教练指示守门员离开禁区往前走,另一名青岛球员则直接冲上去把守门员的球铲下并往自家球门中吊门,结果差点造成乌龙球,接着裁判吹响了全场比赛的哨声。

 

Qingdao’s owner Du Yunqi was irate—at his team’s utter incompetence. As he would later admit to investigators, he had just lost a bet that there would be a total of four goals scored in the game. His humiliated assistant coach said on national television, “Afterward the boss was angry and scolded me, saying I bungled things and couldn’t even fix a match.”

青岛队老板杜允琪对球队的无能相当恼火。此后他向调查员承认,他押了那场比赛中会进4个球,结果赌输了。那位憋屈的助理教练在央视上说:“赛后老板非常生气,指责我把事情搞砸,连一场比赛都控制不了,就炒了我鱿鱼。”

 

The hapless case of “chip-shot gate”, as the Qingdao game came to be known, is just one low point in aeons of Chinese footballing ineptitude. The only time China qualified for the World Cup finals, in 2002, its side failed to score in any of its three matches; the team has never won a game at the Olympics. And Chinese players are sometimes too incompetent not only to win matches, but also to rig them.

这场青岛队比赛中为人们所熟知的“铲球吊射”事件,只是无数中国足球无能的冰山一角。2002年中国队首次进入世界杯决赛圈,三场皆负;中国队从来没在奥运会上赢过球。中国球员有时候甚至太无能,以致不但赢不了球,连打假球的操控能力也没有。

为什么中国会败在足球上?Why China fails at football

In a country so proud of its global stature, football is a painful national joke. Perhaps because Chinese fans love the sport madly and want desperately for their nation to succeed at it, football is the common reference point by which people understand and measure failure. When, in 2008, milk powder from the Chinese company Sanlu was found to have been tainted with melamine, causing a national scandal, the joke was: “Sanlu milk, the exclusive milk of the Chinese national football team!”

一个国家如此注重自己的全球形象,但足球却成了一个痛苦的国际笑话。可能中国球迷疯狂地喜欢这项运动并非常渴望自己的国家队能赢球,以致于足球成了他们理解和总结失败的共同参考点。当2008年国家丑闻三鹿奶粉被查出含有三聚氰胺曝光时,流传着一个笑话:三鹿奶粉,中国国足的指定供应牛奶。

 

Everyone is free to take aim, and publicly. When China was dispatched 2-0 by Belgium in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing (pictured above), a presenter on national CCTV said: “The Chinese football team decided to get out quickly, so as not to affect the people’s mood while they watch the Olympics.” Chinese fans chanted for the ouster of the head of China’s Football Association, Xie Yalong. The authorities sacked Mr Xie shortly after the games.

每个人都可以公开自由地去实现目标。当中国在2008年北京奥运会上被比利时2:0击败时,CCTV的一位评论员说:“中国队还是要赶快离场,免得影响人们看奥运会的心情。”中国球迷高呼中国足协主席谢亚龙下台,赛后不久他就被当局解雇。

 

All this hints at something rather unique and powerful about the place of football in Chinese society. It is, like all organised sport in China, ultimately the domain of the government; so, according to the Communist Party’s normal methods, senior football officials should be provided at least some protection from scrutiny. In general the secretive state machinery of sport is shielded from public inspection, as it manufactures medal-winning Olympic athletes in dozens of disciplines. Chinese football, though, is so flagrantly and undeniably terrible and corrupt that all potshots are allowed: at officials, referees, owners and players—even, implicitly, at the heart of the communist system itself.

所有这些信息反映出足球在中国社会的地位是独特又强大的。它就像中国的举国体育体制,最终是由政府主宰;因此,按照共产党的一贯做法,高级足球官员至少不用监督审查。总之这种遮遮掩掩的国家机械式体育是脱离公众监督的,因为这种体制在很多奥运项目中赢得了金牌。然后中国足球,是如此地罪大恶极、可怕和腐败使得所有抨击都蜂拥而至:官员,裁判,老板和球员,甚至是共产党体制本身。

为什么中国会败在足球上?Why China fails at football

Solving the riddle of why Chinese football is so awful becomes, then, a subversive inquiry. It involves unravelling much of what might be wrong with China and its politics. Every Chinese citizen who cares about football participates in this subversion, each with some theory—blaming the schools, the scarcity of pitches, the state’s emphasis on individual over team sport, its ruthless treatment of athletes, the one-child policy, bribery and the corrosive influence of gambling. Most lead back to the same conclusion: the root cause is the system.

为了解决为什么中国足球变得如此触目惊心的谜底,一个彻底的调查已经在开展。这涉及到披露中国和它本身制度可能存在的弊端。每个关心这次调查的中国民众各执一词——指责学校,场地设施稀少,国家相对团队体育更重视个人体育,运动员的待遇,计划生育,行贿和赌博。大多数指责都归结于一个结论:根本原因是体制。

 

A recent crackdown on football corruption offers little solace; it simply mirrors the pyrrhic campaigns against official corruption elsewhere in China. A mid-level functionary in China’s state security apparatus puts it candidly: “You know all those problems with society that you like to blame on China’s political system? Well it really is like that with football.”

最近足球腐败的取缔只能带来些许安慰;它简单反映出在中国其它地方得不偿失的官员反腐败做法。一位中国国家安全机构的中层干部坦率道:“你想知道所有归咎于中国政治制度的社会问题吗?看看足球就知道了,两者很相似。”

 

Three little wishes

三个小小的愿望

 

China cherishes its many inventions, real and purported. It recently laid official claim to creating Mongolian throat singing (much to Mongolia’s consternation). With the blessing of the international football body FIFA, China also claims the world’s earliest recorded mention of a sport similar to football, during the Han dynasty in the 2nd century BC. A version of the game cuju, or “kick ball”, involved a single, elevated net and two sides of 12 men.

无论是真实的还是传说中的,中国为它有诸多发明而自豪。最近官方声明说中国始创蒙古的喉音唱法(着实看蒙古人汗一把)。在取得国家足联(FIFA)席位后,中国声称在公元前200年的汉代就有和足球相似的运动。这种运动叫做“蹴鞠”,游戏中挂一个网,双方共12人参加。

 

In later centuries a version of the sport prevailed that favoured individual over team skill. China’s rulers took an interest; one Ming-era painting depicts the Xuande Emperor watching his subjects kick the ball around at court. However, by the time football was indigenously innovated in England in the 19th century, cuju and its variants had all but disappeared.

在此后的几个世纪中,这种运动的一个版本更钟爱个人技巧。那时中国的统治者对此非常感兴趣;明代的一幅画中就描述宣德皇帝观看踢球比赛的场景。然而,19世纪足球在英国本土发明,蹴鞠和其它形式都消失了。

 

Football was then introduced to modern China as a foreign invention—but the young nationalists who would later lead the nation still took to it. In his early 20s Mao Zedong played keeper at a teachers’ college in his native Hunan Province. Deng Xiaoping spent precious francs to watch football at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, where he was studying. After he became one of China’s most powerful leaders, Deng, still a football fanatic, paid a visit to the national team, saying that he hoped they would become an excellent side “as soon as possible”.

足球作为一种外来品被引进到现代中国,但是将来要领导国家的年轻民族主义者对足球非常重视。毛泽东20多岁时曾在湖南省教工队当守门员。1924年,邓小平在巴黎留学时,专门去奥运会看足球比赛。在邓小平成为中国最高权利领导人时,他对足球依然很痴迷,在访问国家队时,他希望国家队能尽快成为强队。

 

That was in 1952. Four years later, after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) football team lost to a Yugoslav youth team, Mao met the Yugoslav side and (according to the PLA Daily) said, “We lost to you now and perhaps will keep losing for 12 years. But it would be very good to win in the 13th year.” By 1969 Chinese football was instead in a shambles, amid the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.

1952年,在中国人民解放军足球队成立四年后,中国队负于南斯拉夫青年队,毛泽东会见南斯拉夫队时(据PLA日报)说:“我们现在输给你们,可能还要输12年,但是到了第13年我们就能赢你们。”但是到了1969年,中国足球淹没在文化大革命的浪潮中。

 

This July, undeterred by the lack of progress in the intervening decades, Vice-President Xi Jinping, China’s presumed next leader and also a football fan, added his own “three wishes”: first, qualify for another World Cup; second, host a World Cup; finally, win a World Cup. Wisely, Mr Xi did not set any deadlines.

今年七月,未来中国领导人副主席习近平也是名足球迷,他显然没被这十年足球的停滞不前吓倒,他表明了他的“三个愿望”:首先,入围下一届世界杯决赛圈;第二,举办一届世界杯;最后,赢得世界杯。习主席很聪明,他没有定期限。

 

So whatever ails Chinese football, it is not a lack of passion from the country’s leaders. If anything, the opposite may be the problem. China’s Party-controlled, top-down approach to sport has yielded some magnificent results in individual sports, helping China win more Olympic gold medals in Beijing in 2008 than any other country. But this “Soviet model” has proven catastrophically unsuitable for assembling a team of 11 football players, much less a nation of them.

那么中国足球是哪里病了?中国的领导人从不缺乏对足球的热情。如果要说原因的话,这种热情相反就是问题所在。中国的一党专制、上级管下级方法让中国体育在个人体育方面取得了一些不错的成绩,2008年北京奥运会上中国高居金牌榜第一名。但是这种“苏联模式”残酷地证明这显然不适合11人足球团队,虽然这与中国人口相比是微乎其微。

 

The first problem is the method of identifying young talent. The sport system selects children with particular attributes, such as long limbs, which could pay off in athletics, rowing, swimming, diving or gymnastics. These youngsters are the genetic wheat. But football’s legends can emerge from the seeming chaff of human physiques: think of stocky Diego Maradona, perhaps the greatest ever player, or his Argentine successor, the tiny genius Lionel Messi.

第一个问题是足球苗子的选择。中国足球体制总是以一些特别指标来选择运动员,比如手臂要长,这可以在田径、赛艇、游泳、跳水和体操中出成绩。这些青少年算是好苗子。但是足球传奇从不以人的体型为依据:想想迭戈马拉多纳,可能是最伟大的球员,或者他的阿根廷的球员,矮小的天才梅西。

 

Then there is the matter of gold medals and opportunity costs. China pursues gold by funnelling athletes into obscure individual sports that can reap multiple medals in competitions. Football can only yield one medal or World Cup (two, counting the women: Chinese women have fared much better against a less-developed international field).

接着就是金牌和机会成本的问题。中国把运动员专攻某项体育项目,这样就能在比赛中拿到多个金牌。但是足球就一个场地一块金牌或者是世界杯(算上女足算2个:中国女足的实力也是停滞不前)。

 

But the contradictions and weaknesses of Chinese capitalism have also played a part in the country’s footballing ignominy. In the early 1990s, with economic reforms taking hold, China slowly allowed some of its state-run teams to act more like commercial ventures, eventually establishing a professional league of clubs with corporate sponsorships, investments and higher salaries. The pay for players was still quite low in comparison with Europe, but big domestic stars began earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, a fortune at the time. The “professional” football era began in 1994, but as with any other organised activity in China, the state retained control.

但是中国足球的耻辱包含了中国资本主义的矛盾和劣势。在20世纪90年代早期,随着经济改革的开展,中国渐渐允许一些国有队伍更加商业化运作,最终成立职业俱乐部队伍并得到公司赞助、投资和更高的薪水。那时跟欧洲队伍相比,球员薪水还是相当低,但是国内巨星开始得到上万年薪,在当时算是富翁。职业足球时代开始于1994年,但是和其它有组织的活动一样,仍旧由国家管控。

 

In the event, adding heaps of money to an unaccountable bureaucracy made matters worse. State-owned enterprises, seeking glory on the pitch, lavished government money on the teams they sponsored. Private corporate investors followed suit, and cut-throat competition dramatically raised star-player salaries. A similar pay spiral has afflicted other countries’ leagues, too; but, in China, some clubs with less wealthy backers found distinctive and creative ways to survive.

结果,把成堆的钱供给无数官僚让事情变得更糟。国有企业,为了在球场上寻求光荣,就在自己赞助的球队上挥霍政府资金。私有企业投资者也纷纷效仿,并恶性竞争从而能支付明星球员薪水。这种类似的支付方式也困扰其它国家联赛;但是在中国,一些不太富有投资者的俱乐部能以与众不同和新颖的方式生存下来。

 

Investors would contrive to fix games as favours to the local officials who nominally controlled the clubs (these types of matches are called “favour”, “relationship” or “tacit” matches, and are not viewed negatively by many within the game). Gambling syndicates, including the triads, began exerting influence over investors, referees, coaches and players. A spoils system evolved, and everyone took their cuts.

投资者会试图操纵比赛以取悦那些实际上控制俱乐部的当地官员们(这些比赛类型被称为“恩惠”、“关系”或者“默契”赛,而且在比赛中大多数球员不会消极地对待)。赌博集团,包括黑社会开始对投资者、裁判、教练和球员施加影响。一个腐败系统形成后,每个人都拿到各自的利益。

 

Blowing the golden whistle

吹金哨

为什么中国会败在足球上?Why China fails at football

By the end of the 1990s, it was clear to some insiders that few people in football cared about the quality or integrity of the game. One of the pioneer investors, Wang Jianlin of the Dalian Wanda Group, a property conglomerate, gave up his company’s sponsorship of the team in the north-eastern city of Dalian in 1999-2000—explaining years later that he did so in part because of the sport’s infiltration by gambling interests. Geely, a carmaker, withdrew its support of a club in the southern city of Guangzhou in 2001, just eight months after agreeing to invest. “I was shocked,” Geely’s chief, Li Shufu, told the media. “For a match, bribes of one million, two million yuan [$120,000-240,000] were offered, and not a single football official or referee ever got caught.”

在20世纪90年代末期,足球圈子里的几乎没有多少人会去关心比赛的质量和公正。房地产起家的大连万达集团的王健林作为先驱投资者的一员,放弃了1999-2000赛季对东北城市大连球队的赞助——多年之后他谈起这件事情时,他解释某种程度上是因为这项运动已经被赌博利益所渗透。汽车制造商吉利在2001年撤销了对广州一家俱乐部的赞助,这笔赞助只维持了8个月。吉利老总李书福对媒体说:“我感到非常震惊,一场比赛的贿赂达到一两百万人民币(12-24万美元),而且没有一个足球官员和裁判被抓。”

 

Almost no one got caught because, in proper Communist fashion, an organisation that was deeply involved in fixing matches, the Chinese Football Association, was the same authority charged, in 2001, with investigating and punishing misconduct. A whitewash was the outcome, not coincidentally just months before China’s first World Cup finals in 2002.

几乎没人被抓是因为蔓延着共产党气氛的并操纵比赛的组织——中国足协,在2001年,足协由于失职被接受调查。结果就在2002年中国首次入围世界杯决赛圈的前几个月,足协的罪名都被洗白了。

 

After China’s ignominious exit from the competition, things got worse. Corporate sponsorships and investments declined, hitting salaries and making players yet more susceptible to gambling syndicates. At the same time, with the Chinese economy flourishing, the volume of betting rose dramatically.

当中国的诸多比赛中的不光彩被曝光后,事情变得更糟。企业赞助和投资都搁浅了,球员工资下降,这使得球员更倾向于赌球赚外快。与此同时,随着中国经济发展,赌球热情日益高涨。

 

Finally, in 2007, an investigation of match-fixing in Singapore followed a trail back to Chinese ringleaders. Singapore’s authorities tipped off police in north-eastern China, who uncovered match-fixing irregularities there, ultimately forcing, in 2009-10, a second, more severe reckoning for Chinese football. (Likewise, probes into financial crimes in Hong Kong have occasionally ensnared mainland officials who might otherwise have escaped punishment.) This time some 20 people, including a referee previously considered the game’s most honest—and known as the “golden whistle” for his incorruptibility—were caught in the crackdown.

最后,2007年对一场在新加坡的默契球调查揪出了中国幕后元凶。当时新加坡当局发现当地有操纵比赛的不法行为,并通知中国东北警方,接下来就一发不可收拾,在2009-2010赛季,更多关于中国足球的内幕被曝光。(同样的例子是在香港的一桩金融犯罪案调查偶然牵出大陆官员的洗钱案)。这次牵连腐败的有20人,包括先前被认为是比赛中最正直的“金哨”陆俊。

 

As officials were detained, a parade of tearful confessions and recriminations played out on national television. Huang Junjie, a referee and one of those in tears, explained that he had once refused a bribe from a club to fix a match only because a leading football association official had already asked him to rig it. Mr Huang gave the public an idea of match-rigging lingo as well: when an official texted him to provide “even-handed justice”, it meant he should favour a visiting team over the home side.

当官员落网后,一系列痛苦忏悔和指控出现在国家电视台上。黄俊杰是泪洒法庭的一位裁判,他说在一位足球领导的命令下他不得不去操控一场比赛。黄俊杰描述了一个操控比赛的暗语:当官员给他发短信说“公正判决”时,就意味着他必须偏袒客队。

 

Those caught gave damning justifications, candid in a way that officials in other corruption scandals are typically not allowed to be. “In the general environment of Chinese football at that time, it felt like if one doesn’t do it, one loses out,” said Yang Xu in televised comments: “one just seems like a fool.” An executive of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical FC, Mr Yang and his club had agreed to pay 200,000 yuan to another club to throw a game in 2006, so Guangzhou could get promoted to the Chinese Super League.

这些被抓的都给出了荒唐的辩解理由,在官员的腐败下,公正在某种程度上是不存在于中国足球的。杨旭说:“在中国的足球大环境中,如果你不做就像一个傻子,就得出局。”一位广药经理杨先生和他的俱乐部在2006年往一场比赛中砸了二十万人民币,为的就是能进入中超联赛。

 

The rot of corruption went to the top: Nan Yong, then boss of the Chinese Football Association. Mr Nan reportedly confessed that players could buy spots on the national team for 100,000 yuan—though that was hardly a shock. Officials have long pressured national coaches to select or field certain players. In one recent stretch of about two years, more than 100 players were named to the national squad, a suspiciously high number and roughly double the usual figure. If even the most prized honours have become sellable commodities or patronage gifts, can Chinese football hope to have any heroes?

这种腐败已经到了高层:中国足协主席南勇。让人震惊的是南勇曾宣称球员可以花10万元进入国家队。官员长期对教练施压,迫使教练让某些球场上场,这些球员的上场次数和时间要比普通球员多一倍。如果大多数荣誉变成交易商品或者赞助礼物,中国足球还有希望出英雄吗?

 

Mao’s long wait

毛主席等太久了

 

Some rather unlikely candidates have stepped forward to be the saviours of Chinese football: property developers. In the hierarchy of cartoon villains in Chinese society, developers are among the most reviled, alongside the corrupt officials some allegedly cut deals with to take people’s land.

现在一些低调的候选人已经涉足来拯救中国足球:房地产商。作为中国社会的反派阶层,开发商是被骂得最多的,因为腐败的官员经常倾占老百姓土地并卖给开发商。

 

But developers do have cash. The Evergrande Real Estate Group, which is controlled by billionaire and Communist Party member Xu Jiayin, and which acquired the disgraced Guangzhou Pharmaceutical club in 2010, is spending money like Real Madrid. Evergrande pays generous salaries and victory bonuses, reducing players’ incentives to fix matches, and is building a huge football school. After 11 years away from the sport, Mr Wang of Wanda (also a party member) has taken on a three-year, 195-million yuan sponsorship of the Chinese Super League—reportedly with the encouragement of a member of China’s Politburo, Liu Yandong.

但是革新者也需要钱。亿万富翁兼党员许家印的恒大地产集团,在2010年羞辱了广药一番,它在足球上投的钱相当于皇马的支出。恒大球员薪水丰厚并且有取胜奖金,这减少了球员赌球的几率,并建立了一所足球学校。据称是在中国政治局成员刘延东的鼓励下,万达集团的王健林(也是党员)11年后重返足球,打算花3年时间用1.95亿人民币来赞助中超联赛。

 

These days the owners of 13 of the 16 clubs in the Chinese Super League are either developers or have big property interests. Some have reportedly received cheaper land from local administrations in exchange for their support. Several intend to build more football pitches on it.

现在中超联赛16家俱乐部中有13家不是开发商就是大财团。据报道,当地政府为了表示支持,有些开发商都可以便宜拿地。有些还在这些地上建造了更多足球场地。

 

Will children come out to play, though? Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Chinese children are not queuing up to be football stars. Perhaps above all other factors, this is why hopes for the future of football are dim. From 1990 to 2000 there were more than 600,000 teenagers in China playing organised football, according to official counts of registered players; from 2000 to 2005 that number dropped to an average of 180,000; today (with statistics kept differently) Chinese football officials estimate the number of teenagers playing some form of organised football to be little more than 100,000.

但是孩子会去踢球吗?可能不足为奇的是,中国的孩子并不想成为足球明星。可能和以上诸多因素有关,这就是为什么足球的未来会没有希望。根据官方统计的注册球员,从1999年到2000年,大概有60多万青少年在踢球;从2000年到2005年,这个数字下降到18万水平;现在(数据可能有差异)中国官方估计青少年踢球人数可能只有10多万。

为什么中国会败在足球上?Why China fails at football

Another grim indicator was the 11-0 embarrassment of a team from Beijing’s Ditan Primary School at the nimble feet of some diminutive Russian children from Irkutsk in Siberia. The Siberian youngsters won five of six friendly matches in a late October visit to Beijing (drawing the sixth), prompting a round of self-flagellation in the Chinese media and online postings explaining how youth football had arrived at this sorry state.

另一个残酷的事情是北京地坛小学足球队0:11负于俄罗斯西伯利亚的伊尔库茨克州身材矮小但脚下灵活的孩子。在十月份访问北京期间,西伯利亚青少年在6场比赛中赢了5场,1场打平,这引发的中国媒体和网友对为什么青少年足球到了如此悲惨状态的探讨。

 

However keen they are to watch the game, years of scandal and failure have made parents sceptical about encouraging their children to play it. They worry that the football world is dirty and will corrupt their offspring. In any case, most don’t want their children—especially only children—to waste their time on sport. The education system is geared toward standardised tests, requiring hours of after-school work, which are considered by many to be the lone path to upward mobility.

但是他们都希望看球,但多年的失败和耻辱已经让家长打消了对鼓励孩子踢球的念头。他们担心足球世界很肮脏,会害了下一代。无论如何,大多数父母不让孩子踢球是因为只有一个孩子,他们不想孩子把时间浪费在运动上。中国教育体制需要标准化考试,课后作业要做好几个小时,千军万马过独木桥。

 

When children do seek a diversion in sport, many find it on the basketball court. America’s NBA, with the help of Yao Ming, one of its stars until his recent retirement, has been marketed much more aggressively in China than have the European football leagues. Basketball also requires a much smaller patch of dirt to play on, and land is a scarce commodity (and so hugely profitable). The few pitches that are being set aside by developers will help, but thousands more are needed.

许多孩子会在篮球场找到体育乐趣。在中国巨星姚明的推动下,美国的NBA比欧洲足球联赛更有市场。篮球所需的场地更小,而土地是一种商品(而且利润很高)。所以足球场地的开发都被开发商搁浅,但是更多人需要这样的场地。

 

Still, if the resilient fans are any indication, hope is not entirely lost. Millions watch the Chinese Super League’s matches on television, which often draw better ratings than basketball in the regions where they are broadcast (reportedly embarrassed by the fecklessness in football, national CCTV stopped airing league games in 2008). Tens of thousands fill big-city stadiums to see their countrymen play badly.

但是弹性球迷的热情让希望还没有完全破灭。几百万人在电视前观看中超联赛,在直播地区的收视率往往高于篮球(据报道由于足球腐败,CCTV在2008年停播了中超联赛)。几万人会到体育场来看他们的球队踢烂球。

为什么中国会败在足球上?Why China fails at football

Today’s game is described by insiders as cleaner than it has been since the professional era began—the logical but perhaps fleeting dividend of any high-profile corruption crackdown. There are still fans in the stands chanting “hei shao” or “black whistle”, and sometimes, as in the case of the chip shot in the botched Qingdao fix, “da jiaqiu” (“playing fake ball”). Connections and relationships continue to rule.

现在的球赛比职业足球刚起步时要清澈很多——这是逻辑规律,但可能随着任何高利益腐败的产生而前功尽弃。现在仍有球迷会站出来高呼“黑哨”,有时出现像青岛队那场搞砸了的比赛时,球迷会高呼“打假球”。千丝万缕的联系和关系网仍然主宰了足球。

 

Evergrande’s South Korean manager Lee Jang-soo, the longest-serving foreign coach in Chinese football, says that Chinese players don’t put in the same effort as footballers in the world’s leading leagues: “Perhaps all they think of is to establish good relationships with their superiors,” he said. “Most clubs are like this. It’s mainly about connections, not hard work.” The best players at Evergrande, the nation’s top club, are mostly foreigners earning millions of dollars a year.

恒大的韩国教练李章洙作为中国联赛任职最长的外籍教练,他说:“中国球员从不会像世界上其它顶级联赛中一样在球赛中尽心尽力,可能他们都在想如何和他们的领导保持好关系。大多数俱乐部都是这样。关系是主要的,尽力踢球是次要的。”这位在中国最好俱乐部恒大的最好教练,在中国能拿到百万年薪。

 

After, arguably, more than 2,000 years, China still awaits its first home-grown football star. Spectacularly able though it is to overcome its problems in other kinds of competition, in football, at least, China’s wait for glory looks set to be a long one.

毕竟中国在2000多年里一直在期待它的第一位本土球星。他们在其它竞技项目上能克服问题并取得令人瞩目的成绩,但至少在足球上,中国还需要等待很长时间才能看到辉煌。

 

[ECONOMIST]