By Xinhua writers Wang Yong, Huang Shunda and Song Meili
BEIJING, March 11 (Xinhua) — In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, La Liga president Javier Tebas heaped praise on Chinese player Wu Lei’s performance thus far in the league, and revealed the great interest that many Spanish football clubs have in introducing Chinese players.
Tevas believes Wu Lei has made an outstanding contribution to the team in several important matches after joining RCD Espanyol. His excellent performance has also triggered many other Spanish clubs’ interest in introducing well-performing Chinese players, including some top clubs.
“One thing is certain: Some La Liga clubs do have the interest in introducing Chinese players and have already taken action. They have either already arrived in China, or on the way here,” Tebas said.
Before, only big Spanish clubs, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, have had significant influence in China. But in recent years, La Liga is devoting more and more effort to small and medium Spanish clubs in order to expand their influence here, like Espanyol. “Thus, we would like other clubs to carry on seeking out and finding more opportunities in China,” he said.
“La Liga is currently helping many small and medium clubs open their Chinese social media accounts to allow Chinese fans to get more acquainted with them. We hope that a larger number of Chinese players are attracted to join Spanish clubs through this method as early as possible.”
According to the president, matches and scheduling are key issues for enlarging their presence in the Chinese market, and one of the most important strategies is optimizing game times. At present, La Liga is planning to add match periods that fit the prime time for Chinese viewers. In the meantime, the association is providing assistance to more clubs to play in China. Tebas expressed expectation that Espanyol might play a match in China this summer.
On behalf of La Liga during this trip, he has reached consensus with the Chinese Football Association (CFA) on issues including youth training, league development, football field security, league branding and women’s football. Comprehensive cooperation, particularly in the area of youth training, will be furthered.
In Tebas’ eyes, patience is now the most needed thing for Chinese football, especially in the area of youth training.
“Spain always places a great deal of importance on youth training. China possesses a large teenager footballing population, including numerous high-quality players. I’m sure that China can reap a harvest through effective methods to continuously select and foster potential players.”
“Chinese football is now walking along the right path. However, the achievements cannot be made in only one or two years, what’s needed most is patience. I believe in China’s desire to obtain achievements as soon as possible, but Spain also had to spend more than 90 years to get the first World Cup championship.”
Tebas said that China had taken positive measures, and that the country has the potential to become one of the major football powerhouses in the near future as long as it is persistent.
“There will be more elite players introduced if the CSL can better their finances and maintain them. If it can, I believe the CSL will become one of the five or six strongest world leagues one day.”
Among CSL teams, Tebas said Beijing Guoan had left him with a good impression. He said he has been paying attention to Guoan for years due to its long-standing status as one of the highest-level clubs in Chinese football club. Tebas said he hoped Chinese football players could maintain their competitive level, and wished them more victories in both domestic and international matches.