Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hong Kong Football - what is the way out? (Part I)

Days ago the old arugment of Hong Kong football had been started again. The chairman of South China, which is the biggest and most successful club in Hong Kong, Kit-sing Lo, commented the rival club, Rangers, should be relegated according to the underacheiving result. You may feel that it makes sense, right? But if I tell you the relegation system has unofficially dead, and South China had escaped the releegation 2 years ago because they were the biggest and most successful club, what do you think?

People in Hong Kong really love football - they watch league games all over Europe every midnight. Just count the match schedule of ours. Friday, German Bundesliga match, Saturday and Sunday, league matches all over Europe, Monday, English Premier League (sometimes they have Monday night football), and Dutch league, Tuesday and Wednesday, Champions League, Thursday, UEFA Cup, then back to German Bundesliga in Friday! However, why people in Hong Kong don't watch their own football? I would like to share my point of view here in terms of the problems of the domestic league.

Problem 1 - No investment: Comparing with last 15 years, there was not many people would like to put money into the football industry. This is because they believed this industry in Hong Kong would not gain profit. In fact, yes. This is the main reason why Hong Kong football is declining. As the result of without investment, the league in Hong Kong was not able to attract big name players to play in Hong Kong, or retain the talent in the foobtall industry. Some of the football players in Hong Kong quited the football career because they simply didn't have enough salary to keep themselves survive even. So talents all went away. Kit-sing Lo is the exception, he put lots of money to invest South China after acquiring it 2 seasons ago. Is it enough? No, we need more.

Problem 2 - Without sense of belonging: It all happened all over South East Asia I believe. Asian people support the teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, Milan, etc. are because the various reasons, but not because they feel they belong to that place. Can you see why those people support their own team? This is because they feel they belong to that place, so they support the team wholeheartedly. This is one of the main reasons that the local football in Hong Kong declined. People in Hong Kong don't know about the big names in their own team, and even don't know there is a team around his region. So how can we expect them to watch the game? They know stars in all over the world, it is OK, but they don't care the teams around them, this is the core problem.

Problem 3 - Where is the Government support?: Since the Hong Kong Government had decided to hold an equestrian event instead of football, I personally felt the government had already given up Hong Kong football entirely. Years ago the government had already stopped the support to the football section in the Hong Kong Sports Institute, I personally felt very disappointed and now, even given up to hold an event! It was not enough to invite the big teams to play in Hong Kong every year, I should say it is not a support to Hong Kong football, it is a gimmick indeed. I rather prefer to put that money into the training and support to the football players than inviting those stars to Hong Kong.

Problem 4 - Rotted system: Who will watch the match when you know the whole league is not fair? Frankly South China should have relegated 2 seasons ago, no matter how big the impact is. This is the fair of the game. Now the relegated team do not need to be relegated because of the "special reasons". This time Rangers I mentioned above would like to stay in top flight because they have different sponsor and would like to use the different name to compete next season. Kit-sing Lo was very unhappy about it, but, he seemed to be forgotten what happened to his team 2 seasons ago. The whole league system has beed rotted long ago. So facing this situation, people like me won't watch the game.

Hong Kong was the strongest region (we are not a country, so we call region) in Asia in 1970s to 80s. However, since the uprise of Japan and Korea as well as the prolong decline of Hong Kong, now Hong Kong is the second tier all over Asia, and have a great distance to the strongest nations such as Australia, Japan, and Korea. It is very disappointing indeed and solutions are urgently implemented.

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