In the wake of Beijing-based club Hyundai's threat to pull out of the Chinese football league, an ugly shadow has been cast on the competition.
The league is basically defunct as it is often deemed by many as a haven for gambling, match-fixing and "black whistles" (corrupt referees).
The October 2 walk-off incident, in which Beijing Hyundai withdrew midway through an away league match in protest against a controversial penalty decision, is but a fresh reflection of the fatal disorder of the league.
Beijing Hyundai insisted Zhou Weixin, the referee, made a wrong and biased decision while the officiating commission of the China Football Association (CFA) said Zhou made no mistake in awarding the penalty kick.
From the post-match comments of Yang Zuwu, general manager of Beijing Hyundai, it was easy to see his indignation and repulsion of the ugliness of the Chinese football environment. In his words, the club had previously fallen victim to match-fixing while the CFA sat idle.
The withdrawal, in Yang's words, was an attack on the injustices of the football field.
Past experiences show, on the other hand, the CFA seldom blames its referees for controversial decisions. It needs to defend the authority of referees as well as the organization itself.
The problem is the CFA has lost any semblance of authority as it failed to nip match-fixing and "black whistles" in the bud during the early stages of the league, which brings the league to the current irretrievable chaos.
In 1998, for example, Wang Jianlin pulled his Dalian-based Wanda Group out of the league, citing the "darkness" of the football environment.
The CFA should have learnt from this experience and cleaned up the league. It did not.
Now it is too late for the CFA to regain public confidence, no matter how deftly it handles the pull-out incident.
On September 30, the CFA issued a circular declaring that any violation of league rules during China's National Day holiday, from October 1 to 7, would be punished with extra severity.
Now that Beijing Hyundai is threatening to pull out of the league, which would mean the CFA's loss of the strategically important Beijing market and sponsors, it is said they will punish the team, but only leniently, and not with "extra severity."
This promise-breaking will further sap public confidence in the organization.
Source: China Daily