China’s Soccer Struggles Extend to Media Criticism Over AFC Asian Cup
Chinese media has unusually criticized their national soccer team, which is struggling in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, as being “third-class in Asia.” Attention is drawn to the background of the criticism.
On the 18th, local media outlets such as Hubei Daily, Jikmok Newspaper, and Southern Daily reported that the Chinese national team had a golden opportunity to score in the second match of the Asian Cup group stage against Lebanon but missed it, resulting in a 0-0 draw.
They further analyzed that after failing to decide the match in their first game against Tajikistan, who was making their first appearance in the Asian Cup and recording two draws, the possibility of achieving their goal of reaching the quarterfinals seemed low.
It’s not easy to win against the host country, Qatar, in the third match, and even if China manages to draw without losing, it’s hard to guarantee they will finish in the top three in Group A.
These media outlets criticized, “A series of draws against weak teams outside the top 100 in the FIFA rankings cannot deny that China has fallen to the third-level team in Asia.”
They went on to say that even if China managed to progress through the tournament’s group stage, they would be up against a top team from another group. They raised whether the dream of China advancing to the quarterfinals was still alive. However, they expressed skepticism, suggesting that making it to the quarterfinals seemed like a fantasy for Chinese fans, with a strong likelihood that the Chinese team would be eliminated following the group stage.
It’s unusual for state-run media in China, which has used soccer to boost patriotism, to blister their national team. Some see this in connection with recent allegations of widespread corruption, match-fixing, and bribery in Chinese soccer, exposed through an anti-corruption documentary by China Central TV (CCTV).