For a modern football fan, any sign of globalization can only mean a good thing for one of the most popular sports played on the planet.
Under one circumstance. It’s done in the interest of the game and its biggest assets, the fans.
Football has altered dramatically since the inception of the Premier League back in 1992, record breaking television deals, world record transfers, goal-line technology, the perfect ingredients to brand this the best league.
There has always been heavy competition from Spain, Germany and Italy, with teams like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Juventus leading the way in recent years.
As of late, China has begun stirring quite a storm with high profile names such as Hulk and Paulhino opting for a move to East Asia.
Report from out of China suggest that the sixteen teams in the division are going all out in a bid to grow better relations with the government in an effort for more funding. Despite not having the most structurally sound grassroots football or a top contending international side, you’ll find it hard to find a more determined nation to succeed.
But will this mass spending work?
All clubs in the CSL are limited to the amount of ‘foreign’ players they can invest in, similar to how the MLS works.
Trends would suggest that by going all out to get high profile names, they are investing ‘wisely’ in what they are allowed to bring in. But doesn’t this amount of money emphasise everything that is wrong in the world of football?
Carlos Tevez, Argentinian international who lit up the Premier League during his time with West Ham and Manchester City, is now the highest paid sportsperson in the world. His move to Shanghai Shenhua is estimated to be worth £615,000 a week. Surely the highest paid player is the best player? Certainly something Tevez is not.
His decision to move to China highlights, despite numerous pundits and players saying otherwise, that money is the main draw to the league. So much so that Tevez would go on to contradict his statement for initially announcing retirement due to players only being interested in the money.
Money a side it’s not the worst idea in the world to invest in such talented players to boost the profile of the league, especially as the standard is still a long way off what’s needed.
I for one have never viewed the Asian Leagues as ‘retirement leagues’ like many do of the MLS, but just a mystery as to why you’d waste a crack amongst the world’s best.
Jackson Martinez, Hulk, Oscar, Alex Teixeira, all players who have been wanted by Premier League teams but have turned down the opportunity. The world of football is so vast that many different opportunities arise everywhere, be it to greater your chance of personal success or a change of family life.
Best players play against the best, week in week out, top athletes going toe to toe against each other for one common goal. Silverware. Making it more bewildering as to why China is such a draw to players. Perhaps it’s because they want the limelight, they want to be the big fish in a small pond whilst pocketing a huge match fee.
Where the Chinese suffer the most is their own national talent, the ability of their own bred players to compete at high levels.
An average ‘English’ Premier League player, Danny Welbeck for example, plays for Arsenal a top four side but could easily play for any other Premier League side or a good European team.
Regardless of the status of Managers that have been appointed, Sven Goran Eriksson and AVB, the names of the renowned international signings like Oscar and Martinez, the Chinese grassroots isn’t producing what it needs.
A framework is there for it to succeed but it’s one that needs to matched completely in order to produce a competing product.
A product is what it is, because football is nothing more than a busy anymore and leagues like the CSL will only continue to stress this. Maybe the money is there for them to use, but it’s not without a slap to the face of leagues like the Premier League.
When players opt to go to China instead of England, owners of the English teams will get anxious and begin to throw more money at players. Acting as a bowling ball as then ticket prices will again rise, food prices the same, TV deals become even more ludicrous all because of wannabe supergiant’s of football.
This is only the start. From here on out it’s the battle of banks, China quite clearly knows no limits and will do everything it can to try and further its footballing development.
I intend on writing more of a feature on this issue so stay tuned for more blogs on the rise of the Chinese Super League.