A Guide To The Chinese Football Association

The People’s Republic of China has a single governing body that oversees the affairs of football, futsal, and beach soccer, the Chinese Football Association. When it comes to football, the organisation administers the men’s and women’s national football teams and the professional football leagues.

The association is a member of the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and FIFA. This article offers a brief insight into the history and the current status of the Chinese Football Association.

The Chinese Football Association History

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) was established in 1924. It did not become a member of FIFA until 1931 and played its first international competition five years later. In 1948, the country also participated in the Olympics. Post the Civil War; there was a dispute between China and Taiwan over the authority of Chinese Football. In 1952, FIFA recognised the Chinese Football Association as the sole authority for football in mainland China, not the Football Association in the Republic of China (Taiwan). 

Taiwan was acknowledged as a FIFA member in 1954; however, the CFA continued to object to its membership and recommended Taiwan’s expulsion from the federation. In July 1958, the CFA withdrew its FIFA membership, refused to respond to any correspondence from the federation, and stated that it would not rescind its withdrawal until Taiwan was expelled from the organisation. The matter was resolved only when Taiwan’s membership to FIFA was renamed the Chinese Taipei Football Association, and hence the CFA was readmitted to FIFA in 1980.

In the early 90s, active efforts were initiated to improve the quality of soccer in China. As a part of this plan, the CFA, under the patronage of the General Administration of Sport of China, hired Klaus Schalpper, a renowned German football coach, to train the national team. The aim was to develop the sport and improve its quality while increasing the team’s international exposure and ensuring success in international competitions, including the World Cup for men and women, the Olympic Games, and the overall global ranking of the team. In 1998, a plan was laid out whereby China would strive to become one of the top 16 football teams in the world by 2002.

What is the status of the national football teams in China?

The Chinese men’s national football team currently ranks 75 in FIFA. It achieved its highest ranking in 1998 at 37th place, while its lowest ranking was 109 in 2013. 

The men’s team is at the 9th rank in the Asian Football Confederation. The team won the EAFF East Asian Cup in 2005 and five years later in 2010. It was also the runners-up at the Asian Cup organised by the AFC in 1984 and 2004. The team only participated in the FIFA World Cup in 2002. However, to the disappointment of its fans, its performance was not impressive as the team could not score a single goal and lost all the matches.

The Chinese women’s national football team, nicknamed Steel Roses, is currently ranked 15th in FIFA. The highest ranking the team was able to secure was 4th in 2003.

The women’s team performance has been quite impressive, particularly at the regional level, as it won the Women’s Asian Cup eight times, the last win in 2006. It was also twice runner’s up in the tournament. Compared to the men’s team, their performance at the FIFA World Cup has been better, and the team was even the runners up at the 1999 Women’s World Cup. 

What is the status of the professional football leagues in China?

As suggested earlier, the Chinese Football Association also oversees the affairs of the professional football leagues in the country. Currently, there are four professional leagues in China that follow a relegation and promotion system within the leagues.

At the top, we have the Chinese Football Association Super League, also called the Chinese Super League. It was established in 2004 after the rebranding of the National Football Jia A League. At the second step of the tier ladder, we have the Chinese Football Association China League, or China League One, which was also formed in 2004. Currently, it has 18 clubs.

At the third level, we have the China League 2, having 20 clubs, and the Chinese Football Association Member Association Champions League at the fourth level, with 56 clubs.

What happened to China Super League?

The China Super League was formed in 2004, and at present, it comprises 18 teams. It is the top football league in the country. The CSL is one of the country’s most popular sports leagues and the world’s 32nd-highest professional association soccer league

What is FIFA called in China?

FIFA or Federation Internationale de Football Association is called ɡuó jì zú qiú lián ménɡ in China.

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