BEIJING - Former China national coach Arie
Haan, currently enjoying domestic success with Tianjin Teda, has
put the boot into the country's culture of diving and
The Dutchman produced impressive results while coach of
China from 2002-04 but believes players in the country need to
grow up and cut out the play-acting.
"Players are all showmen in China," Haan told the China
Daily. "The players cheat all of the time. They get one little
push and they fall down. The referee blows the whistle and then
they stand up.
"In China I have seen people shouting at policemen, which is
not done in Europe. I have seen the same thing in football. When
the referee does something the players turn around and shout and
"The whole environment needs to change. The players have to
change. They should accept a lot of things and not bicker with
the referee. Play your game, focus on the game, that's very
important and it makes it easier for the referee."
China's players were feted as national heroes after the
country qualified for the 2002 World Cup, although they failed
to win a match or even score a goal at the finals.
Players such as Sun Jihai and Li Tie moved to English
Premier League clubs Manchester City and Everton respectively,
helping put Chinese football on the map.
However, that momentum was brought to a halt by several
embarrassing match-fixing scandals and the subsequent generation
of players have struggled to make an impact overseas.
"The players going to Europe have to change a little bit of
their character," said Haan, who led Tianjin to the runners-up
spot in last season's Chinese Super League.
"They have to believe they are really good, and still that's
not enough - they have to work, and they don't work enough.
"Chinese players are easily satisfied, but you can never be
satisfied in football," added the 62-year-old, still known for an
outrageous 40-metre rocket against Italy at the 1978 World Cup.
Midfielder Hao Junmin's failure to establish himself at
Germany's Schalke 04 underlines Haan's point and the Dutchman
bemoaned the lack of young talent coming through the ranks.
China only has around 7,000 players under the age of 18
registered with the Chinese Football Association, according to
the Chinese sports administrators. Japan, by comparison, has
Haan's China were controversially beaten 3-1 by Japan in the
2004 Asian Cup final in Beijing, where TV replays suggested two
of Japan's goals should not have stood.
Since then China have slipped off the radar in Asia.
"Everybody is doubting footballnin China," Haan said. "You
don't have stars and you really need people to inspire the kids
like basketball star Yao Ming.
"You don't have a player like him in football, and that's what
you need to get more and more people interested in football."
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