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“The Death of Chinese Football”: Young Players Will Miss Rest of Season for Military Training

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Apparently not convinced that Chinese football is enough of an international laughing stock, the Chinese Football Association announced during the Golden Week National Holiday that 55 of the country’s best under-25 players would be taken away from their club sides during a crucial run-in period at the end of the season to participate in a special “training camp”.

As if that suspiciously-timed, utterly bizarre decision wasn’t enough, it’s since emerged that the players will be given “collectivism ideology training” and perform military-style drills, and that anyone thought to not be fully engaged will be kicked out of the camp and subjected to a ban from all CFA-affiliated competitions.

There are also strong rumors that the decision is to pave the way for a national youth side to enter into the Chinese Super League (the country’s top club division) when the new season kicks off next March.

Understandably, fans are up in arms over the action to remove young prospects from competitive fixtures at the business end of a season, with some declaring the counterproductive initiative “the death of Chinese football”.

English language observers have been left similarly bemused. This thread, from seasoned Chinese football watcher and editor of Wild East Football, @modernleifeng, sums up a lot of the sentiment right now:

His WEF colleague Cameron Wilson also points out that the camp appears in direct contravention of FIFA rules, though the international governing body apparently remains unmoved by the development:

The whole affair seems even more embarrassing and ludicrous than this slice of classic Chinese footballing action:

via GIPHY

It’s not unreasonable to argue that Chinese football needs some radical rethinking for the national team to establish itself on the world stage. But with mind-boggling moves like this, the prospects of China’s men’s team making it to a World Cup any time soon seem remote.

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