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China: The end of 32-year-long football “Korea-phobia”?

China’s football (soccer) team beat South Korea by 3-0 in the East Asian Men’s Football Championship in Tokyo on Wednesday. The victory created a storm of euphoria among China’s sports fans and netizens, as South Korea stood at the heart of Chinese football’s decades of embarrassment, corruption and failures. For 32 years, China had been doomed in every battle with South Korea on the football field, generating the so-called ‘Korea-phobia’ that has dominated the cultural imagination.

In cyberspace, this news was immediately met with joy, amazement and even disbelief. The general opinion seems to suggest that the victory did not just happen by chance, but rather through a genuinely brilliant performance. Here are some of the comments left on a video collection of the game’s highlights, which has already accumulated 800,000 views in less than a day.

我和老爸戏说是附身了,呵呵~

My father and I say these guys (Chinese players) are all bewitched!

这个是中国足球吗 那脚法 那传球精度 我是不是看错了!!

Is this really China’s football team? That accuracy! That agility! Am I on the wrong channel?

早上还看央视封杀国足,让球迷过个开心年,晚上就暴出个大冷门

In the morning I heard that the Central Television was ‘censoring’ the national team so that sports fan could have a happy new year. But in the evening, we were met with such a pleasant surprise.

不管真假,但是的确踢的可以!

No matter whether or not it really happened, this game was superbly well played!

今天是真拼了 难得见到国足的爷们拿国家荣誉当了回事

These guys are really fighting today. It is so rare to see that those pampered boys on the national team take national pride so seriously.

小时候没足球场,周末就和同学在马路正中间(挑的车比较少跑的水泥路),两边各放俩砖头,象征性做了个球门。我们这代人就这么喜欢踢足球。现在的小孩已经很少有这样的了。加油吧,中国足球。不是我们给的爱不够。

When I was a kid I did not have access to any football field, so on the weekend I played with my classmates in the middle of the road. We put bricks on both sides to make goals. This is how our generation loved playing football. Nowadays it is hard to see kids playing like this. Go Team China! Do not blame us for not giving you enough love, because we do!

To make the matter more intriguing, this victory actually came in the midst of a high-profile probe into China’s corrupt football system, which included the arrest of the president of China Football Association for match fixing. Blogger Zhu Daming wrote:

一场比赛不能说明什么,但这场比赛至少能够治愈我们的失去“自信”的多年旧疾。中国足球并不缺乏人才,而以前恶劣的环境让诸多的天才沦为仲永,假球、黑哨以及赌球严重污染了中国足坛这块土壤,再好的苗子也难以生长

One game cannot prove a lot of things, but at least it can bring us back that confidence we have so long lost. There isn’t any lack of talent, yet a terrible environment has turned many talents into mediocrities, corruption and match fixing and has contaminated the soil of China’s football and even the greatest seed cannot flourish in such soil.

Famous blogger and sports journalist Li Chengpeng tries to keep a cool head by questioning the presumption that a single victory means the problems have been finally cured.

3比0胜韩国扫不了32年恐韩,扫的就是这一场,这道理就像九年前世界杯出线扫不了44年的梦魇,只扫的是那一年那几天,因为后来到韩国比赛时就被连奸九球一球未进。

The numbers 3-0 will not cure 32 years of Korea-phobia. It means no more than a win itself. It was the same thing 9 years ago when we broke into the World Cup. We claimed then that 44 years of nightmare had been finally cured. We soon realized this only lasted for a few days, and soon afterwards we were literally raped 9-0 in South Korea.

我们是需要获胜还是需要成功,获胜就是当年抽出亚洲或这次的3比0,成功就是真正像日本足球那样按人性和球性去搞好基础建设,或像巴西人那样当成一个民族的盛宴狂欢

by What is it that we really want, victory or success? Victory was our debut in the World Cup 9 years ago, and is also today’s 3-0 win. Success is different. Success is to get the basics right according to normal human nature and the nature of normal football, just as the Japanese are doing. Success is to treat football as the carnival of a whole nation, as the Brazilians do.

我担心,担心,担心,这场胜利又会搞成行政足球的一次有力的佐证,高洪波因一场3比0而被大赦了11场该说清楚的问题球了,刑不上大夫,刑不上大胜,而且会有大批的群众也认为这样很对。

I am very, very, very worried, that this victory will again be exploited as a pretext for more administrative intervention in football. Gao Hongbo (the coach) will be free from the blame of 11 problematic games simply because of this one game. Law does not apply to the powerful, neither will it apply to the victorious. And a huge number of people will agree with this statement.

Many netizens also echo Li’s worries:

说实话,今天的球还是踢得挺不错的,希望,但是相信就是个偶然,体制不改,还是没戏!

Honestly, today’s game was a very good one, at least I hope so. But I think we were just lucky. There is no way out of our problems unless there is substantial change in the system.

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