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Chinese Super "Brazilian" League

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

04-28-2017 11:58 BJT

By Rodrigo C. Lima, a Brazilian freelance reporter based in Brazil

China is making a big impact inside the football world, and Brazilians are watching this trend very closely.


Paulinho (jumping), Brazilian national team midfielder, currently plays for Guangzhou Evergrande
Photo / Lucas Figueiredo/CBF/Divulgação

"Wow, Oscar missed two penalty kicks, I just can't believe they've lost," said a guy sitting next to me a couple of days ago in a bar in São Paulo. He was referring to the disastrous beating that Shanghai SIPG suffered in the Asian Champions League, when the Chinese club faced a heavy defeat against the Japanese team of Urawa Reds. "It's a pity! They were playing much better," he continued.

It might seem unusual at first, but comments like this are becoming more and more common in the streets of Brazil, widely regarded as the most fanatical country in the world when it comes to football—a place where football is not only a sport, but almost a religion. The fact that the Chinese teams are recently buying top players and spending big money is turning the heads of many Brazilians toward the Far East. Nowadays is not even unusual to hear kids telling their friends they will play in China.

In a sense, China was almost a mythological country to Brazilians a few years ago. When asked about the Chinese, Brazilians would say nothing but funny anecdotes about a distant world. If you asked anyone about China, people would tell you about scorpions and a funny language that no one could understand a syllable of. Nowadays, there is still a lot of that, but there is also football—and big money.

Besides that, there is also another reason why China is becoming more and more popular over here. Major TV channels are starting to show matches and Asian competitions in which there are Brazilian players involved—the Asian Champions League and, mostly, the Chinese Super League. And it's not by accident. In the Brazilian national squad, unarguably the most import institution in the country (yeah, you've read it correctly—for us it's not only a team, but it's a national institution!), there are currently three players who are based in China, two of whom are national idols and starters on the team, Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande) and Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan). The third is Gil (Shandong Luneng), a back up defender.

Moreover, many other famous players have also been seduced by the "Chinese saga"—as the media likes to call this new trend over here. Important figures and national idols are either moving to China or have already played in China. Luis Fabiano and Jadson (Tianjin Quanjian), Alex Teixeira and Ramires (Jiangsu Suning), Hulk and Elkeson (Shanghai SIPG) are among some very well-known figures in the sport who have followed this path.

Meanwhile, Chinese players are also starting to be recognized over here as well. When we talk about Zhang Linpeng and Gao Lin (Guangzhou Evergrande) or even Wang Dalei (Shandong Luneng), it's not a surprise anymore; saying their names is becoming easier, and pundits are even getting acquainted with the particularities of the Chinese language and culture. Guangzhou Evergrande is the most admired and followed Chinese club in Brazil, maybe because of the big connection between the team and Brazilian players.

The question is now how far the Chinese will go with their desire to improve their league. Will it proceed after Chinese President Xi Jinping's football dream? Everyone hopes so. Brazilians are watching closely how football develops in the most populous country in the world. After all, there must be some pretty good talent hidden in that huge population. It's more of a question when it's going to show up. The problem is that competitive football takes time.

"But even if the Chinese make a good team, we will beat them up," said the same guy from the São Paulo bar as we kept talking. Could Brazilians be wrong about that? We certainly have a lot of respect regarding China, but football is definitely something that we are pretty good at.

I think that it's a question of time; maybe it takes more years than the most passionate Chinese football fan would like, but China should have a competitive team in the future. It will be fun to play against them, and, most importantly, it will be great for the sport.


Rodrigo C. Lima is a Brazilian freelance reporter who has worked closely with media outlets in Brazil, Spain and USA. He is a former Peking University exchange-student and Master's student at University of São Paulo.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)

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