, Beijing, December 12 (Reporter Bian Liqun) What would you think of first when you describe Chinese football in 28 in one word?

This year, football returned to the city. However, in addition to the touching of the reunion, the anti-corruption storm in football was staged again, which was quite a bit of black humor.

Photo by reporter Kang Ping

This year, the sword of Damocles, which is related to survival, still hangs over the head of every Chinese Super League club. But in the new workers' stadium of 5,<> people, the starry Phoenix Mountain in Chengdu... In the confusion, it seems that he can see the direction again.

This year, the performance of Chinese football, which is not in good spring, in international competitions, is still full of unwillingness and helplessness. However, those surprises in adversity seem to light up a glimmer of light.

Whether it's good or bad, it's real. In 2023, in the full "story" belonging to Chinese football, everyone has different tastes and answers.

Beijing Guoan home fans. Photo by reporter Tomita

The beginning of the year "hurricane"

"Liu Yi, member of the 11th Executive Committee of the Chinese Football Association and former Secretary-General, and Chen Yongliang, Executive Deputy Secretary-General and Minister of the National Team Management Department, are suspected of serious violations of the law and are currently under supervision and investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the State Supervision Commission in the Discipline Inspection and Supervision Group of the State General Administration of Sports and the Hubei Provincial Supervision Commission."

A notice at the beginning of the year gave 2023 an unusual meaning to Chinese football. This is after the former coach of the national football team, Li Tie, another heavyweight in Chinese football has been investigated. The black corner was further torn apart.

Later, Chen Xuyuan, then chairman of the Chinese Football Association, and Du Zhaocai, former member of the party group and deputy director of the State General Administration of Sports, who was in charge of football, were also dismissed. This wave of anti-corruption storm in football is getting bigger and bigger, and the intensity is unprecedented.

To Zhaocai (left) and Chen Xuyuan. Image source: Osports All Sports Photo Agency

From November 2022, 11, when Li Tie was reported, to the end of August this year, Liu Jun, the former chairman of the Chinese Super League, 26 people in the football field have been reported to be investigated.

It is worth mentioning that together with Nan Yong and Yang Yimin, who fell in the last round of football anti-corruption more than 10 years ago, the first 6 chairmen of the Chinese Super League Company were all investigated.

These black humors, which can only shake people's heads, have become the footnotes of the "dead loop" and continuous sinking of Chinese football for more than 20 years.

Data map: In the last round of football anti-corruption, Yang Yimin, former deputy director of the Football Management Center of the General Administration of Sports of China, was taken out of the court. Photo by reporter Zhang Hao

Survival dilemma

The 2023 domestic professional football league opens in the anti-corruption storm. In the opening game, nearly 5,20 fans of Xingongti witnessed the new debut of the Chinese Super League, which has entered its <>th year, to welcome Beijing Guoan home.

Chengdu Phoenix Mountain Football Stadium with full starlight, Dalian Barke Bay Football Stadium with dynamic TIFO showing the city's century-old football history, Tianjin TEDA Football Stadium returning after 10 years... The same emotion and love are staged in different cities.

But unfortunately, even with such a strong fan base, Dalian Renren team was finally relegated due to financial conditions, and the prospects for survival are very unoptimistic. Beijing Guoan's financial problems have also had a great impact on the club's operation.

Defending champions, Wuhan Three Towns, were caught in the middle of the season when investors stopped investing. To this day, the process of stock reform in Wuhan Three Towns is still uncertain, and it is difficult to find new investors. The previous rumor that "Xiaomi invested in Wuhan Three Towns" made Xiaomi Group quickly clarify and refute the rumors.

Data map: Wuhan Three Towns won the 2022 Chinese Super League championship. Photo by reporter Zhang Chang

This is not an isolated situation, even in a city with a relatively good football foundation, some clubs cannot escape the fate of "running naked" and being ignored.

According to the reporter's understanding, the Chinese Super League team in a first-tier city has received sponsorship funds from a well-known enterprise through the coordination of relevant parties, but the sponsor has made it clear that there is no need to publicly announce this information.

The above dilemma is related to the club's individual business situation. Of course, under the sweep of the anti-corruption storm, the reputation of Chinese football, which is full of chaos, has further declined, which is one of the reasons why investors and sponsors are discouraged.

The opening ceremony of the 2023 Chinese Super League season. Photo by reporter Han Haidan

"Rose" folded

is also facing a dilemma, as well as the Chinese women's football team, which fell rapidly after reaching the top of Asia last year - losing 1:6 to England in the World Cup and exiting the group stage for the first time; In the Hangzhou Asian Games, the home team played 4:1 by the Japanese second team in the semifinals; failed to qualify for the group in the Olympic preliminaries, and directly announced that he would not qualify for the Paris Olympics.

The third-line rout of the Chinese women's football team is admittedly due to the technical and tactical arrangements of the coaching staff, but turning our attention to the domestic women's professional league, in the case of most teams watching the game for free at home, the average number of spectators per game is still difficult to exceed 1,000, and the game viewing and technical and tactical level are also extremely limited.

This foundation also determines the confusion of the Chinese women's football team in the great changes in the world women's football pattern.

The Chinese women's football team missed the Paris Olympics. Photo by reporter Tomita

A women's football practitioner once admitted to reporters after the World Cup that the development trend of Chinese women's football is not as good as that of men's football.

"The world men's football team has entered a period of development and stability, and there will not be much change in the pattern. But women's football in the world is developing rapidly, and now foreign countries are ten steps forward, and we are only one step forward. ”

Regardless of the basic league and youth training level, just in terms of the situation that the Chinese women's football team will not have a major competition to play in the next two years after missing the Paris Olympics, it is enough to show that this judgment is not alarmist.

Data map: Chinese women's football team in the 2023 Women's World Cup. Photo/Visual China

Bottoming out?

Chinese football, which is not in good spring, is full of unwillingness and helplessness in international competitions.

However, when the Chinese men's football U20 qualified for the Asian Youth Championship after 9 years, the Chinese Olympic team qualified for the Olympic preliminaries in adversity, and the Chinese men's football team defeated the Japanese team to win the East Asian Football Confederation Championship, it still brought a ray of light to Chinese football in the trough.

This year, the national football team also started again in the storm. After the coach position was "shelved" for more than 10 months, the new coach Jankovic took office, and the national football team embarked on a new round of impact on the World Cup.

Although the performance of the warm-up match was not ideal, in the crucial world preliminaries, the national football team faced a tough battle with the Thai team and successfully won the opening away game. Although they lost to South Korea at home, the result was expected. The important thing is that the spirit of the team during the game was gratifying.

Data map: The national football team in the game. Photo/Visual China

2023 is about to pass, and the current Chinese football has begun to wind up for 2024.

The national football team is preparing for the Asian Cup early next year, many professional clubs have started winter training, and some teams that have encountered survival problems are making their last efforts to gain access.

The investment situation of many professional football clubs has improved to a certain extent compared with the beginning of the year.

More and more clubs are starting to focus on market development and the power of fans. Beijing Guoan launched a full attendance certificate for fans, and the equipment blind box was sold out soon after it was launched. Shaanxi Chang'an Union, which was reborn by relying on the power of fans, continues to explore on the road of membership.

Although our league has lost a lot of big-name star elements compared to the Jinyuan football period, this year's Chinese Super League still maintains a relatively ideal attendance. According to statistics, the total number of viewers in the 2023 season of the Chinese Super League exceeded 476.2 million, with an average of nearly <>,<> viewers per game.

Data map: Tibetan football teenagers stepped into the Chinese Super League as little ball boys. Photo by reporter Tomita

After the new leadership team of the Football Association took office in mid-October this year, it has repeatedly shown its importance to the field of youth training.

The continuous improvement of the Youth Competition, the scale and influence of the gradual expansion. Song Kai, President of the Chinese Football Association, previously met with FIFA President Gianni Infantino and had an in-depth conversation on the development of youth football, and expressed his willingness to host youth international football matches.

The National Youth Football Winter Training Mobilization Conference, which was held again after many years, deployed and promoted the youth training work in 2024, and once again allowed the Chinese football community to gather a consensus of "youth training first".

A Tibetan soccer boy walks into the Beijing Workers' Stadium. Image source: IC photo

Whether Chinese football in the storm in 2023 can be regarded as completely hitting the "bottom" cannot be clearly determined at this moment, and we can only wait for time to give an answer. Fortunately, some signs of improvement can be found.

Looking forward to the upcoming 2024 Chinese football, we can be down-to-earth, live up to our love and persistence, and see the bright future as soon as possible. (ENDS)