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Asian Flu

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AFC logoThe past few days there have been headlines about online gambling, matches being thrown, and players being arrested. You may be thinking “oh no, not again”, but this time the stories aren’t coming out of China, instead they are about Korea. The scandal has been focused on one team in particular so far, Daejon Citizen, though speculation is that the scandal is far more widespread. The K-League, previously held as a model of professionalism for the Chinese, doesn’t seem to be much better off. At the same time, for a league already struggling with attendance figures, this will be a brutal blow.

Just as this scandal is hurting football in Korea, a battle rages in Zurich that has potentially embarassing consequences for Asian football. For no other apparent reason than sheer hubris, Mohamed Bin Hammam, widely known in Asia for being as corrupt as a Chicago politician during the Daley era (that is to say unbelievably corrupt) decided to challenge longtime FIFA president, and former butt buddy, Sepp Blatter. There is no love lost for Bin Hammam, who pulled off a massive scam coup when he paid off convinced FIFA voters a World Cup in his native Qatar was the dumbest idea ever really good for the game of football.  Bin Hammam’s failed power grab is sure to lead Blatter to uncover and let the world know the depths of Bin Hammam’s corruption.

Of course corruption in Asian football isn’t limited to Korean and AFC House, in the AFC’s home base of Malaysia, FIFA officials have recently traveled there to focus on an international match fixing scandal that has not only rocked the domestic league, but potentially affected leagues around the world. Of course, no article leaves out the fact that Bin Hammam’s replacement (at least temporarily) is a Chinese official, and we all know the problems the CFA has been through during the last 10 months.

What is it about football in Asia that makes it so rife for corruption? Is it the small salaries and lower amount of risk (no endorsement deals, far less media scrutiny, etc)? Is it the opposite, other leagues are just as corrupt but the Asians are just worse at keeping it covered up? Is there something different about the Asian player’s mindset?

AFC sides aren’t exactly making a massive impact on world football in the Bin Hammam era, though there are some marked improvements over the past. The introduction of the Asian Champions League has brought on a lot of sponsors, but is also failing miserably as nobody cares and clubs often slag it off to focus on their domestic leagues. Yet another Asian league facing scandal at the same time as Asian football is looking for a new leader going forward, let’s just hope it’s a clean future.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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