Rapacious intermediaries and coaches with forged or few qualifications are trying their luck in China’s fast-growing grassroots soccer, imperiling its ambitions to become a major force in the sport, insiders said.
At the behest of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing is throwing resources at the game.
Central to that is getting more youngsters to play at schools, clubs and academies. The Chinese Ministry of Education plans to have 50,000 schools “characterized by soccer” by 2025.
However, five people involved in youth soccer told reporters that they had encountered coaches with counterfeit certificates.
Just being from overseas was sometimes enough to get work, many involved in the scene said, as so-called coaches rush for a share of the money.
Former international forward Xie Hui, now an assistant coach at Chinese Super League (CSL) champions Shanghai SIPG, said there was “a huge problem” with youth coaching.
“Even if you give them Wu Lei, they will erase [his talent], that’s the reality,” the 44-year-old said, referring to the Chinese forward who left SIPG for Spain’s RCD Espanyol.
“Nothing has [improved] in 20 years because there is no building [effective structure]. It’s almost a desert of youth football education,” he added.
Beijing is pouring money into youth soccer, but Xie said it was often going to waste. He alleged that some schools were even making up results without playing matches.
One well-qualified coach who asked not to be identified said there was a “free-for-all” and bemoaned how unscrupulous coaches were giving the rest a bad name.
Mario Castro, who holds a UEFA B license from the Portuguese Football Federation, paints a similarly bleak picture.
“We have three huge problems in China: the fake coach, the unqualified coach and the coach without knowledge,” said Castro, who has worked in China since 2016 and is technical director at a Shenzhen-based tie-up with Toulouse.
“In the small cities the academy or company needs a foreign face, even if the coach doesn’t have a degree or UEFA certification,” he said. “In the big cities there is a huge market in part-time coaching and most of the coaches don’t have a certificate to be a coach or work with children because it is very difficult to find a real coach to work only a few hours per week.”
The Chinese Football Association declined to comment on the situation, but last month it issued a set of rules in an effort to regulate the chaotic coaching market — a tacit admission that a problem exists.
Tom Byer, a renowned coach with vast experience of grassroots soccer in several countries, said that the problem of ill-equipped coaches was not unique to China.
The American who has worked with Chinese education authorities said that he had never come across a “fake” coach.
“But I can imagine there are some charlatans out there,” he said, adding that the profession was blighted by various “scams.”
Among those, according to several figures in the sport, are intermediaries given money by local authorities to find foreign coaches for schools, only to keep as much as half of it and pay the coach the rest.
The greatly diminished wage means that experienced or well-qualified coaches often do not travel to China.
“China is under a different level of scrutiny these days because of the amount of money being spent at the very high end,” Byer said, referring to CSL clubs. “There are plenty of other countries that don’t have enough qualified coaches at the grassroots level, but there’s lots to criticize around the world when it comes to grassroots development and money.”
A businessman who received millions of dollars for his work on Tokyo’s successful campaign to host the 2020 Olympic Games has said that he played a key role in securing the support of a former Olympics powerbroker suspected by French prosecutors of taking bribes to help Japan’s bid. Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at the advertising agency Dentsu, was paid US$8.2 million by the committee that spearheaded Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Games, financial records showed. Takahashi said the work included lobbying International Olympic Committee (IOC) members such as Lamine Diack, the ex-Olympics powerbroker, and that he gave Diack gifts, including digital
DECREASED TENSION: The US players’ lawyers said that the soccer federation no longer disputes that the jobs of the women’s and men’s national teams require equal skill Women players suing the US Soccer Federation (USSF) said in in court documents filed on Tuesday that the federation has acknowledged that the jobs of male and female soccer players require equal skill. The language seemed to signal a decrease in tension between the parties after language in documents filed by the federation’s lawyers earlier last month provoked widespread outrage in saying that playing on the men’s national team required a higher level of skill based on speed and strength and carried greater responsibility. The fierce backlash — not only from the women players, but also from sponsors such as Coca-Cola —
BITING THE BULLET: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi said that top players would make contributions so that the club’s employees can collect 100 percent of their salary Three-quarters of Rugby Australia’s staff were temporarily laid off yesterday amid huge financial losses from the sport’s coronavirus-enforced shutdown, while Lionel Messi confirmed on Monday that Barcelona’s players would take a 70 percent pay cut to ensure that the club’s other employees are paid. The cuts to rugby staff were “the toughest decision in the game’s history,” governing body CEO Raelene Castle said. “Although extremely painful, they are necessary to ensure ... we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild.” The sport has been hit hard by
If British industry succeeds in saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, it would in part be thanks to the pioneering role played by Formula One (F1) racing teams in the country. Seven of F1’s 10 teams have joined forces with leading aerospace and engineering firms to ramp up production of ventilators, while Mercedes has also worked with medics and academics to produce an alternative breathing aid. Normally obsessed with improving the performance of cars that race at more than 320kph, the teams are stripping back lifesaving devices and using computer simulation to test whether more simplified models can be mass produced. The seven