Former Liaoning sports chief Song Kai elected as CFA president
Published: Oct 16, 2023 10:56 PM
Song Kai delivers a speech at the Chinese Football Association (CFA) 12th membership conference on October 16, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Song Kai delivers a speech at the Chinese Football Association (CFA) 12th membership conference on October 16, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Former Liaoning sports official Song Kai was elected as president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) at the organization's membership national conference on Monday. Soccer fans have pinned their hopes on Song to revitalize Chinese soccer following the start of an ongoing anti-graft campaign since November 2022 that has seen more than a dozen soccer-related officials investigated.

The 58-year-old has been working as a vice head of the preparatory group for the CFA election since June. Song has been the man at the helm of China's sports powerhouse Liaoning Province in Northeast China since 2016. 

During his tenure, the province successfully revitalized its "three major ball" games - soccer, basketball and volleyball - highlighted by its basketball team the Liaoning Flying Leopards' triple triumphs in the domestic basketball league CBA. 

"We will try our best to build a more united, more hardworking, more open, more transparent and more courageous CFA in the future," Song was quoted as saying at the conference.

Li Yingchuan, an incumbent deputy minister of China's General Administration of Sport, was elected the Party secretary of the CFA.

"We should learn from the profound lessons of systemic corruption in soccer, resolutely abandon the idea of quick success and instant benefits, be prepared for a long and hard struggle and adhere to the long-term success step by step," Li was quoted as saying.

Sun Wen, Yuan Yongqing, Yang Xu and Xu Jiren were elected as vice presidents of the CFA, with Chinese women's soccer legend Sun being the only vice president who remains in her position from the previous membership conference.

The 50-year-old Yuan, also named the CFA secretary-general, has past experiences serving in the Chinese Basketball Association. Yang, previously president of China's softball governing body, has been tasked to supervise China's professional soccer leagues in the future. Xu is a senior sports journalist from the Xinhua News Agency.

Gao Hongbo, a former vice president of CFA who remained intact amid the ongoing anti-graft campaign and was among the preparatory group for the CFA election, has been elected as the technical director of the association.

In addition to the president and vice presidents, the new 20-member executive committee elected by the conference includes female soccer star Wang Shuang and former men's national team captain Zheng Zhi. 

Earlier this year, Du Zhaocai, former deputy head of the General Administration of Sport of China and CFA vice chairman; Chen Xuyuan, former CFA president; as well as several other senior Chinese soccer officials have been put under probes for taking bribes since November 2022.

As the anti-corruption campaign is still underway, the possibility still exists that other soccer officials will be investigated, according to a Beijing-based soccer industry insider.

"It is wishful thinking to say that the damage done to the CFA due to corruption can be fully removed with new leadership," the expert said.