Rus­sia lags be­hind

CityPress - - Sport -

move that did not end well for the pair amid re­ports they were not paid the salaries promised to them.

How­ever, most Su­per League clubs can flex real fi­nan­cial mus­cle.

The Asian na­tion’s foot­ball-fa­natic pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is be­hind the lat­est turn­around. Xi is re­port­edly fed up with the coun­try’s fail­ure to de­velop as a foot­balling na­tion.

China last qual­i­fied for a World Cup in 2002, in South Korea and Ja­pan, where they were knocked out in the first round with­out a point or a goal scored.

Xi wants change and so change is hap­pen­ing.

The Chi­nese League used to be ob­scure and re­ceived lit­tle at­ten­tion world­wide. It at­tracted no­bod­ies, but the times are rapidly a-chang­ing.

Aus­tralian star Tim Cahill, who joined Shang­hai Green­land Shen­hua last year, summed it up re­cently when he said: “When they [the Chi­nese] want some­thing, they get it, and when they don’t want some­thing, they get rid of it.”

Money talks, and there is a new kid on the block when it comes to splash­ing cash – China is the place to go if you can strike a few goals and want to strike it rich too. One can only won­der if South African stars will look to get in on the act, too. Why not?

What will be most in­ter­est­ing, though, is see­ing if all this money trans­lates into good foot­ball.

Rus­sia’s foot­ball is not yet at a level that matches the coun­try’s political and eco­nomic might, al­though the Rus­sian Premier League con­sis­tently ranks among the top 10 in Europe.

The 2018 Fifa World Cup host has not reached the on-field lev­els they have been hop­ing for, de­spite at­tract­ing some big-name play­ers and coaches in the form of Brazil­ian star striker Hulk, Nige­rian for­ward Ahmed Musa and top tac­ti­cians Guus Hid­dink and Fabio Capello.

Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin wants Rus­sia to as­sume a greater role in the world of foot­ball. But they have a lot of ground to cover be­fore the 2018 global event if they are to be taken se­ri­ously.

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