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Why Isn’t China at the World Cup in Sunny Brazil?

June 14, 2014 - Ray Tsuchiyama

See: “Why China Isn’t at the World Cup?”

See: “The Four Goals: A New Soccer Plan for China”

See: New York Times Online Forum: Where are China’s Soccer Stars?

Maui soccer fans who are following the once-every-four-years World Cup, now held (for the next month or so) throughout the soccer-obsessed country of Brazil (from Rio to Manaus to São Paulo to Natal to who-knows-where) – you all may be wondering among the 32 top soccer teams, including the host country Brazil and powerhouses like Italy, the Netherlands, England, Cameroon, and Argentina – plus Iran (yes, this country survived the qualifying rounds), Japan, Australia, Honduras, and even Bosnia and Herzegovina – where is China?

In 2002 I lived through a World Cup held in Japan and South Korea, and it was quite a fun, memorable, historic time (the Japanese team did go a bit farther than anybody thought under a manic French coach). Japan experienced a soccer “boom” in the late 1990s and many followed the national team. Japanese soccer players, some who play for European (like Germany's vaunted Bundesliga) and even Russian teams (Keisuke Honda, a strong striker, played for three years with CSK Moscow), have improved greatly over the years.

Also in 2002 the People’s Republic of China (with 1.35 billion people) qualified with a team – finally, the first time since the World Cup began in 1930, and then, with a huge Chinese television audience following each Chinese player and the small round ball, the Chinese team lost three games in a row – against Turkey, Brazil and Costa Rica.

I can easily understand the loss against Brazil, but Costa Rica has a population of barely 5 million people – about as large as a small Chinese city. Why hasn't China -- the Olympics gold-medal winner -- developed soccer players and a qualifying World Cup team strategy?

For more details on the wrong (and quite silly) reasons why China has not succeeded in soccer against other country teams, please read Blog No. 1 listed above.

For my prescriptive list (a strategy) on how China can qualify (and transform the playing level of soccer nationally) for the World Cup, please see Blog No. 2 above.

Finally, I was invited by the New York Times to contribute to an online Forum on this challenging topic, and you can read my short condensed blog, along with other contributors (very insightful) in the third Web blog. The NY Times editor was strict and would not allow me to ramble on and on, as there were space restrictions, so the reader may find my short blog unusually succinct and to-the-point.

This is my point: once in a while on the Web, somebody finds your blog of interest and you become famous as an “expert” for 15 minutes.

Back to soccer: the ROW (Rest-of-World other than the United States) will suffer economic downturns as huge numbers of workers will call in “sick” to stay home and tune in to cable or satellite World Cup games. If a favorite, like Brazil, is defeated, I will predict riots (much worse than the current spasm of riots in Brazil this week). The U.S. team is in the "Group of Death", with Germany, Ghana, and Portugal (two are superior, one is good)-- and the U.S. coach has been quite negative in his assessment of the U.S. team's chances (maybe it is a quirky tactic to get the players up-and-about -- but the German coach's logic escapes me).

I predict Argentina to win the World Cup in Brazil.

Anybody who wishes to wager a malasada, please give a detailed analysis below.

See: Maui News “My Quest for a Good Malasada in Brazil”


Article Comments



Jul-08-14 7:43 PM

With the elimination of Brazil 7-1 by a very strong German team, the next match is Argentina-Netherlands -- again, I realize that the Dutch have looked better than the Argentinians during WC matches, but I still go with Argentina to win the Final. We will see!


Jun-19-14 8:43 AM

Well, with the advantage of seeing some surprising results so far — defending champion Spain is already eliminated from advancing and Portugal, a top-five-ranked team by FIFA, lost its first match 4-0 to Germany — I will go somewhat with the chalk and say Brazil.

Tremendous pressure on the home team, for sure — the yellow and green one-namers were criticized by their fans for not winning "pretty" enough in their opener and for a scoreless tie against Mexico — but a startlingly talented team, nonetheless.

Plus, any team with players simply known as Fred, Hulk, Oscar and Jo, among others, gets my vote, partially based on the cool factor.

A note on China: I covered a Chinese baseball team in Guam in a 1988 Olympic qualifying tournament. The sport was in its infancy then for the world's most populous nation. That team could barely field routine pop-ups, but is now a factor in the World Baseball Classic each time it is played.

Soccer will similarly follow suit, I believe.


Jun-18-14 10:40 PM

Corrected! And Mr. Sports, which country team do you predict to win the World Cup?


Jun-18-14 12:12 PM

Aloha Ray, enjoyed the blog, but one little correction — the Bundesliga is in Germany, not Russia. RC


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