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No need to focus on China’s loss to Brazil

China experienced a crushing defeat to Brazil yesterday. I don’t want to talk about it too much, the Seleção played brilliantly while a beat up, tired Chinese side limped through it. The loss is the worst ever for the national team. While it was a horrible performance, we at don’t want to overreact and instead feel its best to play down the importance of the match (the exact opposite approach taken by many in the Chinese media). This article is cross-posted on our site after having appeared on Yahoo! China yesterday.

After having put up a decent fight against Sweden last week, China’s national team was embarrassed by Brazil this morning, 8-0. The match was entirely one sided and included a span of four minutes that saw Brazil score three goals.

The national team has long been a running joke, but this Brazil loss may have fans closer to giving up than ever before. However, that would be a mistake. China gave up a lot of opportunities to Sweden last week, but only lost 1-0. From there they travelled to Brazil for this match, the players had to be tired and that probably factored into their poor performance.

Unfortunately, too many will focus solely on the scoreline of this match as a sign of how bad things are in Chinese soccer. Few will bother asking why the CFA decided to fly the national team around the world, literally, going from China to Swedent to Brazil and back, scheduling China against one of the best teams in the world instead of finding a more reasonable opponent in Europe or the Middle East.

Neymar’s brilliance and this crushing defeat aside, things aren’t that bad. China’s results in 2012 have been favorable and many viewed the national team’s solid performance against world champions Spain as a sign that things were finally heading in the right direction. It would be easy to overreact after this thrashing, but doing so would be a mistake. The CFA’s idiotic decision to set up this match was just leading lambs to the slaughter and more than the players, it’s the organization that is supposed to act in the best interests of Chinese soccer that is to blame.

It’s not only at the national team level that China is struggling. The future of China, the U-19 side, was crushed by Mexico 5-1 over the weekend, with four of Mexico’s goals coming in the first half, resulting in a very disappointed manager angered at his side’s lack of fight.

What the CFA needs is a long-term development plan that is focused on the next 20 years and not just the next five. It needs to be well thought out and devoid of politics and corrupting influences, ensuring that no matter who the head of the CFA is, the plan will continue to be followed.

The United States and Japan are two excellent examples for China to look toward. Both were struggling also-rans in the early 1990s, but through development of the game at the youth level and not just placing the focus at the very top, both have risen to prominance in international soccer. The hiring of Tom Byer, an American who is famous for developing Japan’s grassroots programs, to take charge of the School Football program is a step in the right direction.

China’s loss to Brazil is bad, but little attention should be paid to it. Instead, the focus should be on grassroots development and getting more children to play the game. Today’s loss is meaningless, but if Chinese football hasn’t improved beyond this point in 20 years, it will be a disgrace.

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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