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Softpower, Soccer, Supremacy

The Chinese Dream


Edited By J.A. Mangan, Peter Horton and Christian Tagsold

Xi Jinping’s "Soccer Revolution" is unique: the most extensive politicization and geo-politicization of the Global Game. His purpose is to extend the global softpower projection of "the Middle Kingdom": an ancient Western imperial mantra ("bread and circuses") has been replaced by a modern Eastern "imperial" mantra ("rice and pitches"). The Asian Football Federation shares this "allopathic" vision of East Asian soccer: the future is Asia and it starts in China! Soccer is a talisman for a New Asia in a New Era. For China soccer is a hubristic instrument of softpower projection. Softpower, Soccer, Supremacy: The Chinese Dream makes this point forcefully. In East Asia soccer in now "much more than a game"!

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12 Japan and China: Overview—Leagues and Clubs (Christian Tagsold and Sato Ryohei)


12 Japan and China: Overview—Leagues and Clubs

Christian Tagsold and Sato Ryohei

To analyse professional soccer in Japan and China, we need to first understand the respective features of the leagues and clubs in these two countries. This chapter opens with an analysis of the Japanese J.League and the Chinese Super League as well as their respective strategies concerning international transfers and raising local talent. It then moves on to discuss the competition in the Asian soccer market, which mainly results from both leagues’ activities, and the more general consequences for the soccer-scape in East Asia. Finally, the Chinese–Japanese competition is analysed as a rivalry in the making, which might be quite beneficial for Japanese soccer.

Xi’s dream of turning China into one of the world-leading soccer nations threatens to undermine the well-established East Asian hierarchy in this sport. In the last decade, Japan and South Korea dominated at national level, but China has already made inroads in club competitions. How have Chinese clubs been able to outpace their East Asian rivals, and what obstacles have prevented the Chinese national team from immediately capitalizing on this success? To answer these two questions, this chapter explores the different strategies Chinese and Japanese clubs use to strengthen their teams. Two basic approaches are considered. Luring European and South American players to Asia with high transfer fees and salaries has been one way to enhance a team’s likelihood of performing on a higher...

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