CHINA / SOCIETY
Chinese netizen reports football head coach Li Tie to top discipline inspection and supervision body after poor performances
Published: Nov 19, 2021 02:00 PM
Li Tie. Photo: CFP

Li Tie. Photo: CFP


After Team China's 1-1 draw with Australia in its latest round of World Cup qualifiers, which virtually eliminated China from contention to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, one netizen identified as a lawyer posted on Chinese twitter-like social media Sina Weibo that he had reported Chinese head coach Li Tie to the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission, claiming that Li's annual salary was a case of corruption.  

So far, the Chinese Football Association and Li himself have not responded to the issue. In addition to the disappointing performances, observers noted that Li's controversial remarks at the press conference angered fans further. 

The angry netizen posted a screenshot of his real-name report on Li on his Weibo account on Wednesday, saying that his annual salary of 8 million yuan ($1.25 million) was not linked to any performance evaluation bearing in mind how poor the team's form had been, and that Li did not use naturalized players, which he contented was wasting "state property" and "abuse of power."  

Li's annual salary is not officially disclosed, but many fans are not satisfied with the performances of the successor to legendary Italian coach Marcello Lippi.  

Many netizens have expressed dissatisfaction with this kind of over-reaction, as "the guy even misspelled the Chinese goalkeeper's name, indicating that he didn't watch the matches at all and just wanted to attract attentions to demonstrate his sense of justice." 

Some fans also expressed their support for Li, saying "if we want to cultivate outstanding young coaches, some price must be paid." 

China drew with Oman and Australia in two rounds of World Cup qualifier matches in November, which seems it unlikely to book a place in Qatar.  

"You guys did not go through that and don't know how tough and cruel it is for the players and the staff members. I'm very proud of them," Li said in the post-match press briefing on Wednesday, starting his 30-minute battle with media.

Responding to the debut on his player picking and tactics, Li said that "I spend more time in football than any of you," and "no one knows the Chinese national team better than me."

Many said the Donald Trump-style rhetoric from Li came across as arrogant.  

China's matches against Oman and Australia, both of which should have been played at home, were subject to venue changes due to the pandemic. Some people say game home or away is almost the same for Team China in terms of the strength, Li directly hit back.  

"People like that have no brain and no understanding of football. If we had played in Suzhou, we could have obtained six points [two wins]. That's the difference," Li said.   

"Li should understand that the media, in conducting journalism, need to ask tough questions, not against him, and that he has an obligation to explain the poor performances," a Beijing-based sports commentator told the Global Times in condition of anonymity.

"The level of China's football is poor, but Chinese football fans are no less interested in their country's football than those in other countries… It is because of the attention of hundreds of millions of fans, Chinese football receives larger sponsorship fees than other sports with good results. Li can command a higher salary than most domestic sports coaches," the expert said.  

Many commented that Li has an obligation to talk to public in a positive manner, whether he likes the questioner or not. He also faced Chinese fans who stayed up late to watch the games, working from dawn to dusk and facing no less pressure than Li, who earns a high salary, the expert said. 

Li may want to talk about his difficulties and challenges, but he should also know that mainstream public opinion expects a lot from him. He should explain or further demonstrate how Team China can play with the rock-solid determination and desire to win, observers said. 


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