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Softpower, Soccer, Supremacy

The Chinese Dream

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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the global softpower projection of "the Middle Kingdom": an ancient Western imperial mantra ("bread and circuses") has been replaced by a modern Eastern "imperial" mantra ("rice and pitches").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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16 Blinded by the Light! Hard Ball Disguised as Soccer: Interpreting China’s Football Dream—An Australian’s Reflection (Peter Horton)

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16 Blinded by the Light! Hard Ball Disguised as Soccer: Interpreting China’s Football Dream—An Australian’s Reflection

Peter Horton

Prelude

The admittedly extravagant developments that have been implemented and planned by China’s national and provincial governments, together with a host of commercial interests, all working towards the realization of China’s dream of becoming a world power in Association Football (hereafter, football) has generated a hyperbolic media reaction worldwide. This chapter is written from the context of another of FIFA’s Asian group nations—Australia. It will consider the media messages Australians have received, either directly or indirectly, regarding China’s drive to achieve this goal. It is now no longer a mere reflection of wishful thinking by football fans in China, it is now government policy. Are the messages embedded in the myriad of media reports fully appreciated, let alone correctly decoded, given the level of hyperbole generated by foreign appreciation of the scale of Chinese enterprise? It is conjectured few of the media sources have fully realized the extent to which the project is more than simply a personal even idiosyncratic ambition of the newly entrenched long-term President Xi Jinping. Now, the President’s dream is part of the activities that so evidently originate from the various chambers of China’s softpower repertoire. In contrast to the reporting from many sources and the response to the euphoric commentary coming from China itself regarding the nature of the plans it has laid down to become a...

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