Asian football is catching up: how many years before they overtake us?
Asia is growing from every point of view and this growth is also without question reflected in football, the most widespread sport in the world which in recent decades has managed to unite fans of every kind and culture.
But if, on the one hand, Asia is trying to match Western football standards, it is also true that to ensure the healthy growth of football it must also manage to invest its capital in a more rational and measured way. It will also be necessary to continue to talk with the West because there could not be any globalisation without constant contact between West and East, and no growth target could be pursued without direct exchange between the two.
And perhaps it is this fact the Chinese Football Association – known to all as the most active Asian football federation in recent times – has recently come to understand, putting a brake on the crazy investments to buy foreign players and limiting to 3 the number of foreign players who can be used on the pitch by each Chinese team. The reform will promote increased development of local players – who will no longer be overshadowed by the presence of Western champions thanks to the greater spread of and improvement in Chinese Academies – while making it possible for China to move towards Financial Fair Play which many would like to see extended to FIFA and, consequently, to China in order to limit its excessive purchasing power which in the long run could tip the balance permanently to the East or even lead Chinese football to ruin.
In the era of globalisation, we should ensure all countries worldwide can grow together with a development plan giving everyone the chance to reach the same standards and to become competitive in the same way. Only in this way can football really be considered as the first true global sport. This is also the objective of the new reforms planned by FIFA, such as that of a 48-team World Cup, which according to President Gianni Infantino will make the rapid and concrete growth of football possible in those nations which – should the old formula be maintained – would never have the chance to see their national team take part in such an important tournament, with the spontaneous promotion this automatically provides.
Therefore, in the near future, everyone – and not just Asia – must pay closer attention to the great benefits that a phenomenon such as football can bring worldwide, thanks to its ability to support exchange and integration between different cultures through the healthy growth of the game which is fairer and which gives every country an opportunity to grow.