Professional Football in China

Retrospect and prospect

Authored by: Dongfeng Liu

Routledge Handbook of Football Marketing

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138289321
eBook ISBN: 9781315267203
Adobe ISBN: 9781351972369


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Professional sport in China has a relatively short history. Up until the mid-1990s, sport in China remained the prerogative of the government. China was and still is one of the countries that have a ministry-level government department (National Sports Commission or NSC before 1998 and General Administration of Sports or GAS thereafter) that is solely responsible for sport affairs ranging from elite sports to sports for all to sport business regulation and promotion. But the priority has long been on elite sports supported by a state-sponsored high performance sport administration system widely known as “Ju Guo Ti Zhi” in Chinese referring to a centralized system by mobilizing nation-wide resources available in the country. In practice, with a unique system of selecting and training elite athletes supported by a government administration and financial system at its center, this “Ju Guo Ti Zhi” enables China to amass nation-wide resources available to develop its elite sport, with the ultimate goal of winning medals at international competitions, especially at the Olympics, to serve national pride. It was a system modeled after the former Soviet Union, with government playing a dominant role and contributing and controlling most of the resources, and obviously a legacy of the old planned economy. One example of this government domination is the governing system of specific sports. Most of the sports have a national governing body called sports associations as required by their respective international governing bodies, such as Chinese Football Association in the case of football, but in reality, all these associations were only organizations in name without any actual organization with office and full-time staff: they were all governed directly by the NSC.

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