Ma Ning, who stepped onto the pitch at Doha’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Monday, became the second Chinese player to take charge of a World Cup match.
The first time a Chinese referee participated in a men’s World Cup match was in 2002, when Lu Jun oversaw two matches. It was also the last and only time China qualified for the World Cup.
China finished out of qualifying for Qatar Games in February, the eve of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the country’s unique sports festival.This left Chinese football fans to watch another match World Cup As a neutral I hope their wait time is not as long as theirsMore wales Also Canadaare back to showcase football’s finest after an absence of 64 and 36 years respectively.
But while disappointment has become familiar to many Chinese fans, many react to the team’s woes with dark humor rather than anger. It left a bitter taste… Although China does not participate in international football, the country itself is cut off from the rest of the world.
“It’s funny, when I saw the opening ceremony, I was surprised that people weren’t wearing masks at all, and I was shocked that I was surprised by that myself.” said Kane Zhang, a 31-year-old Beijinger.
Restrictions due to COVID-19 have tightened again across China, with cooler temperatures and more contagious Omicron strains testing existing controls. China is one of the few countries not to open up this year, maintaining travel restrictions and imposing an emergency lockdown on its citizens if an infected person is detected.
Anxiety is growing as workers at Foxconn’s flagship iPhone factory come to work in Henan this week. Conflicts with people involved in epidemic prevention can be seenSmaller anti-lockdown protests have also taken place in other parts of the country, with internet censors struggling to control anger online.
Even for those seeking distraction at the World Cup, controlling COVID-19 may be inevitable. Chan wanted to book a hotel room to watch the season opener. Kickoff was at midnight Beijing time, so he and his wife’s cheering and shouting would not disturb the neighbors.
“But we didn’t end up doing that. The hotel we wanted to go to required a 48-hour negative test report, which we didn’t have at the time,” he said. Told.
Similarly, Mr. Zhang is now under home quarantine along with hundreds of thousands of other Beijingers.
“I feel strongly contradicted,” he said. “I check my phone every morning and some people are talking about the World Cup, others are talking about community lockdowns.”
As conditions in Beijing deteriorated rapidly and people stocked up on food for a possible lockdown, Zhang said he drove across the city to find a place to buy vegetables before being put into quarantine. Told.
“And the next day I saw that on the other side of the world no one was wearing a mask and tens of thousands of people were gathered in a football stadium.”
Amy Wen, a 26-year-old financier from Hangzhou in eastern China, said she wasn’t particularly bitter about her country’s failure to represent her country at the World Cup.
“Football is a fair game. The Chinese men made no effort to get them to Qatar,” she said.
However, the suppression of the plague leaves her depressed. Wen said she was a student in Russia when the World Cup was held in Russia in 2018.
“I went with my boyfriend in 2018 and said I would also be at the 2022 World Cup.
“When the virus first broke out, the whole world started in the same place. But now we are the only ones living in the darkness of late 2019.”
China’s COVID-19 controls have robbed the country of the opportunity to host the next AFC Asian Cup, which was scheduled to take place in July 2023. Instead, hosting duties will again fall to Qatar, with an unexpectedly quick payback on the emirate’s large investment. In stadiums and infrastructure ahead of the World Cup.
Some of these stadiums were built by Chinese companies, and state media were keen to highlight China’s involvement in the competition off the pitch. In a video released by state broadcaster CGTN, the reporter gushed, “From large-scale infrastructure to small commodities, ‘Made in China’ is the highlight of this World Cup.” Participation in has become broader and deeper,” he added. ” for the past four years.
The video says this is likely to increase ahead of the next World Cup to be held in 2026, co-hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico. The tournament will also be the first to feature 48 teams instead of his 32, which could improve China’s chances of qualifying.
“We certainly have more chances than before,” Su Maozhen, a former international player for China in the 2002 World Cup, said in a recent interview with state television. “But it’s the same in other countries…so I think we’ll still face stiff competition.”
It’s also not clear if the issues that have so far hampered China’s efforts to achieve Quality 11 will be resolved by 2026.
China is spending billions to become a world football powerhouse, built stadiums and academies, and invested in the Chinese Super League. This continued to be a spectacular expenditure in a short period of time to acquire foreign talent. However, several teams have since been forced into bankruptcy, and COVID-19 controls have meant that most games since 2020 have been played in empty stadiums.
Along with files from Alexandra Lee in Beijing.