German FA official urges young Chinese players to go overseas

A German football official has some advice on developing Chinese football – make long-term plans and allow youngsters to gain overseas experience.

A German football official has some advice on how to develop Chinese football — make long-term plans and allow youngsters to gain overseas experience.

“Chinese players should seize as many chances as possible to go and experience football in Europe and South America. The country should also make long-term plans for the development of the sport and stick with those plans,” said Dr Friedrich Curtius, general secretary of the German football association (DFB).

Curtius was speaking at a press conference in Beijing during which the DFB named NetEase as its official online media partner in China. NetEase will cover news from the association and the German national team during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The DFB also launched its official Chinese website on NetEase.


The German football association launches its official Chinese website on NetEase.

But Curtius’ suggestion on young players’ gaining more overseas experience appears to be a bit awkward given the current situation of the game in China.

With the Chinese Football Association pushing forward the use of U23 players in China’s top two tiers of the domestic league by tightening its regulations, young players, especially those who have played or are playing overseas, have become hot targets of clubs in the Chinese Super League and Chinese League One.

For instance, 21-year-old national team striker Zhang Yuning, who currently plays for Bundesliga side Werder Bremen on loan from England's West Bromwich Albion, remains one of the few well-known young names who are still plying their trade abroad.


Striker Zhang Yuning plays for Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, where he is on loan from England's West Bromwich Albion.

Zhang’s choice drew support from retired national team striker Yang Chen, who formerly played for another Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt.

“He (Zhang) gave up possible high income and decided to take up challenges abroad. Though he is yet to enter the match line-up, he is still young and I have faith in him,” said Yang.

“The U23 policy was introduced with good intention, but this might also bring unexpected side effects, including raising the price of young players. The players are now facing more allurements and have to build new values regarding social status, income, and etc."

Curtius said that Germany, too, has policies favoring young players but most of them are applied in lower tier leagues.

“German football also encountered difficulties 20 years ago before steady long-term policies were put into practice for the development of youth football. Over 1,000 training camps were built around the country and good coaches were hired to select local young talents.

“You will notice that a lot of players in the current German national team benefited from these camps and training programs, which can become a reference for China,” said Curtius.

In the CFA’s revised regulations for CSL and Chinese League One clubs this year, the establishment of a youth training system has become a compulsive requirement when the clubs register with the association.

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