Football in China

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"Chinese football" redirects here. For the table-top game sometimes called "Chinese football", see Paper football.
Football in China
Country People's Republic of China
Governing body China Football Association
National team men's national team
National competitions
International competitions
A football match in China

Football in the People's Republic of China consists of Association football (Chinese: 足球; pinyin: zúqiú) as well as the China national football team. Football has been one of the most well supported sports in China, since it was introduced in the early 1900s. The national governing body is the Chinese Football Association (CFA). Hong Kong and Macau have separate national teams and leagues.

According to FIFA ranking on 12/1/2017, the Men's National Team is ranked 81st in the world and according to FIFA women's world rankings on 23/12/2016, the Women's National Team is ranked 13th.

Professional league[edit]

The Chinese Football Association Super League (中国足球协会超级联赛), commonly known as Chinese Super League (中超联赛, CSL), currently known as the Wanda Plaza Chinese Super League, is the highest tier of professional association football in China, operating under the auspices of the Chinese Football Association (CFA).[1]

The Super League was created by the re-branding of the former top division, Chinese Football Association Jia-A League, in 2004. While the league originally consisted of 12 teams, 16 teams now compete in it. The title has been won by seven teams:Shanghai Shenhua, Shenzhen Jianlibao, Dalian Shide, Shandong Luneng, Changchun Yatai and Beijing Guoan. The current Super League champions are Guangzhou Evergrande and in 2015 the average attendance has been of 22,193 spectators.

National team[edit]

The China PR national football team is governed by the Chinese Football Association (CFA).[2] The team was founded in 1924 in the Republic of China under the auspices of the China Football Association and joined FIFA in 1931. Following the Chinese Civil War, the CFA was formed in the newly founded People's Republic of China. They remained affiliated with FIFA until 1958, when they withdrew, but they rejoined in 1979.

China have been runners-up at the Asian Cup twice: in 1984 and 2004.[3]

Football development[edit]

Football initiatives have been developed, including Vision China - a part FIFA Vision Asia - which has reached the highest standard in Asia and the quarter final of the men's competition in the 2008 Olympics. The programme covers marketing, development, footballer training, coach and referee training, sports medicine, competitions, media, and fans. It also includes assessments on Chinese football, planning matches and monitoring them. Goal Project for China, part of FIFA Goal Project invested in China to help build the new headquarters of the CFA.[4]

An early form of football was developed in China in the Han dynasty, during the second and third centuries BCE, called Tsu' Chu. This is in fact the earliest form of football worldwide for which there is documentary evidence, in the form of a military manual. This was played using a leather ball filled with feathers and hair and a small net held by long bamboo canes. This game died out well before modern football was adopted in China.[5]

The Chinese government has outlined plans to make the Asian nation a footballing superpower and to create 50,000 special football schools in a decade.[6]

Media coverage of football in China[edit]

Football is covered by the Chinese media.[7] National competitions are generally televised on CCTV-5 and CCTV-5+. Guangdong Television reserves rights, however, for the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. Since 1996, CCTV-5 has weekly programmes televising live games in the Italian Serie A and German Bundesliga to Football Night (足球之夜). Serie A, Bundesliga and Liga are broadcast on CCTV-5. Shanghai's Dongfang Sports channel also has regular football coverage.

Foreign leagues[edit]

Chinese football fans often associate themselves most with teams in the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A and the German Bundesliga.[8] Chinese players going to play in European leagues attracts massive media attention. The pioneers were Xie Yuxin who joined FC Zwolle (Netherlands), Gu Guangming who joined SV Darmstadt 98 (Germany), and Jia Xiuquan and Liu Haiguang both joined FK Partizan (Yugoslavia), all in 1987.[9] Prominent more recent examples include Sun Jihai, formerly of Manchester City; Zheng Zhi, who played for Celtic; Shao Jiayi, formerly of 1860 Munich, now of MSV Duisburg; and Yang Chen, formerly of Eintracht Frankfurt.[10][11] [12][13]

Corruption in Chinese football[edit]

The professional league is marred by match-fixing, illegal betting, and violence on and off the pitch,[14][15] which the Chinese government has promised to fix.[16] Two former top executives of the Football Association of China were arrested and prosecuted for taking bribes.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sheringham, Sam (2013-01-08). "BBC Sport - Didier Drogba & Nicolas Anelka put Chinese football on the map". Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  2. ^ "Why China fails at football: Little red card". The Economist. 2011-12-17. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  3. ^ Minter, Adam. "Why Chinese Hate Their Men's Soccer Team". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  4. ^ "AFC to support Chinese football". Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  5. ^ "History of Football - The Origins". FIFA. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Let professionals run Chinese soccer | South China Morning Post". Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  8. ^ "Pay, Not Play, Fuels British Invasion Of Chinese Soccer". NPR. 2012-07-27. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  9. ^ Saga over As Dong Joins Man Utd at, 18-1-2007, Retrieved 5-4-2012
  10. ^ "Chinese soccer: Vanity project or emerging superpower? -". Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  11. ^ "Why China fails at football: Little red card". The Economist. 2011-12-17. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  12. ^ "A changing game for soccer in China". 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  13. ^ Duerden, John (2012-05-03). "Sports: Soccer". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  14. ^ Osnos, Evan. "Corruption in Chinese Soccer". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  15. ^ Reuters in Beijing (2012-06-13). "China soccer match-fixing: former football chief and top players jailed | World news |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  16. ^ Barboza, David (2012-06-13). "Lengthy Prison Terms in Chinese Soccer Corruption Case". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  17. ^ Barboza, David. "Soccer Officials Sentenced in China", The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-9

External links[edit]