Chinese Taipei Football Association deputy chairman Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) has high ambitions for Taiwan to qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals in 2050.
However, Chiu said that the government and business sectors are not doing enough to make soccer a more widespread and popular game.
“We should build up our soccer industry: spending NT$500 million [US$16.67 million] is not enough,” Chiu said.
Chiu has an unusual combination of responsibilities, given that he is a Democratic Progressive Party legislator representing Greater Kaohsiung and a university professor specializing in the tourism industry, along with his role with the association.
“Taiwan’s adult-level soccer has faltered and is in decline. The main problem is that our government is neglecting soccer. This results in very inadequate facilities and conditions for the game,” he said.
“Japan and South Korea put down roots at amateur levels and they have developed their own professional league, which has spurred on the progress of the national team. These things are not out of reach for Taiwan, it is just that not much action has been taken so far,” he added.
Chiu played soccer growing up in Pingtung County and was a member of the elementary-school team, which won the local championship.
Chiu said he became a big fan of English Premier League soccer when he was in the UK for his graduate studies.
“I would have a kick-about game outside with friends. It was a simple pleasure to enjoy. Soccer is a common language in the UK, enabling people to immerse in the local society,” he said.
Chiu said in the legislature he raised Taiwan’s soccer issues at least five times in question sessions, “but I was very disappointed. The government officials knew very little about soccer.”
“They do not recognize Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and other famous international stars. So how can we expect them to know about Chen Po-liang (陳柏良), Taiwan’s best soccer player now, and give him the needed support?”
He said there are many people involved in the Taiwan game, but the players cannot see where their future lies.
“Now it’s just a short-lived fever once every four years, while few people truly have a good understanding of the game,” he said.
Because of his strong advocacy for the game, Chiu has many friends and supporters in the soccer community, so they invited him to take up the association’s deputy post.
Having just returned from Brazil as FIFA’s guest to watch the opening match in Sao Paulo, Chiu said he was impressed by many nations’ passionate support for the game.
Saying the Japanese have set themselves the goal of winning the World Cup in 2050, Chiu said: “Starting from grassroots level and working upward, I believe Taiwan can also progress to qualify for the finals in 2050.”
“We should learn from the success of other countries. I believe Taiwan can have its own ‘soccer dream,’ but we need everyone to work together to achieve it,” he said.
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