Whilst the European continent have ruled the roost when it comes to hosting many of the prominent names in football, the country of China, palpably an emerging footballing superpower, is threatening to dethrone the proverbial ‘top five’ leagues of Europe.
The Asian nation have been on an acquiring spree in the last few years, roping in some of the hot names to the lesser lights of their domestic league.
Chinese football may not be as popular as the European one, nor it may garner as many fans, but one cannot deny the fact that they are on their way to become the next hotbed of all the superstars of the football fraternity.
But what’s the reason for top players joining the Chinese league?
Football in China is thriving, and how
China have identified football as a major region of growth and intent on showcasing their footballing might to the world by signing talented players from Europe.
President Xi Jinping has called for transformation from the grass root level, whereas several development schemes are also put in place to exercise it. Simultaneously, the president also wants to scale up the country’s top flight football status, attracting several rich investors to invest heavily in the sport.
With an aim to double the Chinese sporting economy within 2025, it seems football is the starting point for it.
Another major – and obvious – reason for players migrating to East Asia is the exorbitant wages they’ll be drawing every week.
With some high-profile entrepreneurs and businessmen squeezing in the money into clubs, there are able to entice players to join their league.
Jackson Martinez, Gervinho, Ramires, Paulinho et al are earning almost twice as much as they did when in Europe, whereas Carlos Tevez, who recently jumped into the bandwagon, is now the highest paid player in the world, drawing more than even the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Quite evidently, money does have its say.
Not only the players, but managers too
Whilst the number of players joining the Chinese league continues to go through the roof, the count of some eminent managers of football is also on the rise.
Luis Felipe Scolari, who guided Brazil to the 2002 FIFA World Cup and also has Portugal and Chelsea under his CV, is currently the head-coach of Shanghai Shenshua.
Manuel Pelligirini, after heading the bigwigs of Europe such as Real Madrid and Manchester City, is currently managing Heibei China Fortune. His onetime Premier League rival Andre-Villas Boas too, has jumped ships and joined Shanghai SIPG.
Not only that, but some other well-known names such as Sven-Goran Eriksson and Gus Poyet too, are plying their trade with the Chinese clubs.
Spearheading a footballing revolution
Whilst India and a few other nations are witnessing a revolution in football, it is China which is at the forefront. The country has shown a deep political and economic desire to break the barriers and emerge as a true footballing might, which is only set to bolster by the influx of more foreign players in the coming years and also given the increasing fan following within the country.
The reach of the Chinese League may also see a massive escalation due to a staggering new television deal. From a decent US$9 million last year, the Chinese broadcasters are now set to pay a whopping US$1.2 billion for the television rights spanning over the next five years, boosting the viewership well over tenfold.
Thus, the Chinese league may not just garner more followers, but also set itself firmly on the way to a revolution for all to see.