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No-one turns up to welcome China’s football team in Hefei

Shichang Xingbao 13Jun

China’s national men’s football team is so unloved that the only reason the media report their arrival in a city in China is that no-one turns up to welcome them. Thus the team’s movements around the country is such a non-event that it’s actually newsworthy. This is indeed the case with the Star News (市场星报) from Hefei in Anhui province today, whose front page reports that the Chinese team “quietly” arrived at the Kaiyuan Hotel in Hefei yesterday with only a few attendants and journalists to welcome them; there was not a single member of the public in sight.

Instead of having to wade through a sea of adoring football fans on their way from the bus to the hotel, all the Chinese football team had to contend with were hotel attendants handing them flowers. It certainly hasn’t helped that the team is fresh off two home defeats: 1-2 to Uzbekistan on June 6 and 0-2 to Holland yesterday June 12. The team is now preparing for its next friendly against Thailand on June 15 at the Hefei Olympic Sports stadium.

If they are completely ignored by everyone else, the national team is at least given some special treatment by the hotel staff. A whole floor of the hotel has been closed off just for the team, and six types of fruit have been prepared for the team’s Spanish coach, José Antonio Camacho. Yet as Star News puts it, under Camacho the team has entered a steep decline (一落千丈). This may be a little unfair on Camacho, because when was the Chinese national team not in decline? Since taking over in August 2011, Camacho’s record as coach in all competitions and friendlies is won 7, drew 2, lost 10.

The top headline on the Star News front page is about new government policies to attracted talented professionals to Hefei. To the left of the story about the football team is a photo and story about Chinese astronauts on the Shenzhou 10 celebrating Dragon Boat Festival in space (more on that on English here).

Links and sources
Star News (市场星报): 端午节,国足抵肥“遇冷”