Tag Archives: Zhang Jilong

Beijing And Tokyo Take Their Rivalry Into Football Administration

Even in the world of international football administration, Beijing and Tokyo don’t let their rivalry drop. Candidates hoping to replace the scandal-tainted Mohamed Bin Hammam as president of the Asian Football Confederation are already jockeying for position. Zhang Jilong, who is filling the position in an acting capacity following bin Hamman’s suspension by dint of being the AFC’s senior vice-president, is a candidate, but far from the favorite to head the 46 nation confederation permanently.

Although he can count on the support of the majority of the 10 members of the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF), he won’t be able to rely on that of Japan, which already thinks China has too much influence over the EAFF though itself, South Korea (and Australia) are the region’s leading soccer powers on the field. Japan’s own candidate is likely to be Kohzo Tashima, general secretary of the Japanese FA. If he runs he can expect South Korea’s support but not that of China and its EAFF allies. Beijing sees little chance of Tokyo being helpful to its push to secure a FIFA World Cup, and vice versa. Beyond that lies the bigger rivalry.

The internal regional bickering is likely to mean that a candidate from West Asia such as the Bahraini Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa will emerge victorious. East Asia’s football federations will be left bewailing the continuing shift of power from East to West to the detriment of the growth of the sport in what should be some of its most dynamic countries.

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China: Shrinking Power, In Soccer At Least

China may be a growing power in the world of superpowerdom, but in the global game of football, it is a diminishing one, despite its ambition to host a FIFA World Cup. Its national team ranks a lowly 79th in the world and it now has no representation on FIFA’s executive committee (ExCo), the top table of world football’s governing body.

In that it shares the fate of Japan and South Korea, two nations with legitimate claims to be footballing powers. At elections earlier this month, all three failed to win places among the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) representatives to FIFA’s ExCo. Power within the AFC is tilting towards West Asia, symbolized by Qatar winning hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup, the emirate’s Mohamed Bin Hammam being re-elected as the AFC’s president and Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Hussein’s upset defeat of South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon for the FIFA vice-presidency.

There has been some talk within footballing circles of the 46-nation AFC splitting into eastern and western confederations, though AFC vice-president Zhang Jilong, China’s most senior representative at the confederation and who was one of the unsuccessful candidates for FIFA’s ExCo, plays down to possibility in an interview with World Football Insider. FIFA would not necessarily look favorably on an upstart break-up of the AFC, and Chinese football still has plenty to do in cleaning up its own scandal-plagued game before a World Cup bid is feasible.


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