Football is about passion and friendship, not money

Liu Junyang
The criteria for joining our school football team are simple: You have to love football, love to play with students, and have to buy your own shoes.
Liu Junyang

To Chinese football fans, it is the best time when we can all enjoy the beauty, passion and glory of football in Qatar.

Particularly in these COVID-19 pandemic times, I know of many families who have to stay at home, and I am sure the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup must have provided much-needed relief and comfort.

Football is about passion and friendship, not money

Liu Junyang is a football fan and player.

I was born in 1963, and over the past 40 years since the reform and opening-up, my generation has witnessed some of the country's greatest achievements. My salary has increased more than 200 times. There are so many things we all are proud of, but one thing in particular: football, thanks to the Chinese women's national team.

CCTV has sent a huge team of 131 people to cover the ongoing World Cup, and the team will provide a visual feast of more than 700 hours of high-quality programming. The whole world is celebrating this passionate event, including China, a country with the largest number football fans in the world.

Football is about passion and friendship, not money

The first Friendship Football League consists of teachers and students of the University of International Relations.

In 2020, due to the pandemic, our university started online teaching, but most students didn't come back to campus. As a professor, I got more free time, and then I developed a passion for football. I played football nearly every day. Members of our football group varied, usually about 10, with half teenagers, including girls, and half adults. Everybody really enjoyed the game.

This semester, I organized a series of friendly football matches between students' and teachers' teams. Our teachers' team has played every week with the students' teams from all departments of the school. By the way, I am the oldest player, at 59, but I've scored nine goals in nine matches. Our teacher's team has about 20 members, including three females. Any teacher is welcome to join, no matter male or female, old or young, skilled or unskilled. The criteria are that you have to love football, love to play with students, and have to buy your own football shoes.

Football is about passion and friendship, not money

Liu Junyang, 59, can be tough on the soccer field.

In recent years, the health of Chinese students has attracted increasing attention. Under great pressure, many students have developed the symptoms of depression. I often tell my students: "In this modern world, we all have some pressure, and a simple way to relieve the pressure is to go out and play football, baseball, running, jogging, or other sports."

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said in his Meditations, "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to love." Life is short; we have to enjoy every day. Even if it is a rainy day, you have to be positive, and believe me, tomorrow will be sunny.

I have confidence in the cleanliness of campus football fields at most schools in China, including ours.

Football is about passion and friendship, not money

Teachers and students shake hands after a football match.

We only care about the beauty and passion of football, and the friendship between students and teachers, and there is no money involved. I am not saying that the game of football should not be a business; it is. Without money, Qatar could not build such wonderful football stadiums, luxurious hotels, and other state-of-the-art facilities for the World Cup. There are too many commercials on CCTV5 when we watch the matches, but fortunately, they do not intrude during game time. I think most fans can bear them.

Football is about passion and friendship, not just money.

The writer is associate professor in the culture and communications department and research fellow of the Sino-Denmark joint research center on China and International Relations, University of International Relations. The views are his own.

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