Beijing - Chinese football authorities have apologised for
the national team's poor showing in 2018 World Cup qualifying, but fans
denounced their remorse Monday as missing the goal.
Last week, a 0-0 draw with Hong Kong -- when the
semi-autonomous territory's fans jeered the national anthem they share with the
mainland -- left China hopes of reached Russia 2018 hanging by a thread.
The perenially underachieving national team stand third in
their group with two games left and are struggling to reach the next round of
Industry executives, coaches and players felt "the same
disappointment and pain" as the fans, and were "deeply sorry and
facing enormous pressure", the Chinese Football Association (CFA) said on
Also read: China complain over disallowed ‘goal’
"Given the status quo of a lack of [football] culture
and... teams that are not very competitive, it is difficult to expect that
early reforms would have an immediate effect," it added.
Signalling that French coach Alain Perrin's position could
be under threat, it said the organisation would carry out a "comprehensive
assessment" of his performance and "seriously analyse" it after
supporters called for his dismissal.
The CFA acknowleged that it "cannot escape and will not
choose to escape" censure.
Perrin was hired in February 2014 with hopes he could lead
China to its first World Cup finals since 2002.
China is the world's most populous country and
second-largest economy, and officials have ambitions to host and even win a
World Cup, but the team currently languishes in 84th place in the Fifa world
rankings, behind Cyprus and Antigua and Barbuda.
"Get out of here," wrote one social media poster
Monday in an expletive-strewn response to the weekend statement. "Is that
Another insisted: "Until we qualify, there will be no
Chinese football long suffered from endemic corruption, with
a history of match-rigging and bribery, but authorities have sought to clean up
the game in recent years.
One commentator said: "This soccer setback was such a
big thing, yet the first thing the CFA thought to do was wash its own hands
clean. Just an apology isn't enough -- those who have any face at all should
resign, and the CFA should be reformed to the point of being totally
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