China football pioneer Rowan Simons, Peng Shuai’s “statement” slammed, and D-Day for China’s hockey team

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On a jam-packed show, we discuss the latest drama with the Chinese men’s hockey team – who may still get kicked out of the Olympics (0:45). China gets its first F1 driver, as Zhou Guanyu joins Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo for next season (6:07). Then we turn to a China tennis story that’s gone global: What’s going on with Péng Shuài 彭帅, and what does this mean for the sport of tennis in China? (10:26), [note: segment recorded prior to release of Peng’s alleged statement]. And, we talk about China’s latest results in their FIFA World Cup qualifying matches and where it leaves them. Spoiler: they’re still not going to qualify for Qatar (16:50).

This week, we also speak to Rowan Simons. He’s a familiar figure in football in China. In 2008, he wrote Bamboo Goalposts: One Man's Quest to Teach the People’s Republic of China to Love Football and founded ClubFootball, one of the largest youth soccer programs in Beijing. We talk about: the number of pitches built in China since a 50-point reform plan was initiated in 2015 (20:11), the issue with the campus football project (23:23), how bureaucracy hinders essential long-term planning in the sport (25:49), the different generations of football coaches in China and their different mentalities (31:16), why parents are the hope for Chinese football (33:34), the impact of the gaokao [China’s university entrance exam] on sports (35:20), whether China is potentially ready and willing to host a World Cup in 2034 (37:17), and why Rowan is cheering for China to qualify for the World Cup — and why he isn’t (43:16).

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17 episodes